Danza del Caribe: Itara (Assembly Roxy 5-31 Aug : 17:00 : 1hr)

“Full of vibrancy, dynamism, risk and sexual energy”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

I knew little of Cuban dancing before this show, so I was very intrigued to find out more about it, and the comparative differences to traditional dance from other countries and regions. However, as expected, it was a performance full of vibrancy, dynamism, risk and sexual energy.

This show was split into three distinct sections, of which, the first, entitled Sulkary, covered the theme of relationships and fertility. To me, this was the strongest and clearest in terms of narrative and accessibility – it started with the three female dancers alone on stage, with motifs of flexed feet and hands, depicting a sense of discovering identity. They were soon joined by three male dancers, each carrying a huge pole, who brought an air of dominance to the stage. When the two groups joined together, a real sense of tenderness through bodily contact became apparent, and three couples emerged and broke off.

The following two sections were both energetic and colourful, with daring lifts and complex unison and canon sections. However, it was less obvious what was going on, and although the movements were impressive it was slightly more difficult to engage in these parts.

The costumes (of which there were many throughout) were bold, intricate and full of the Caribbean spirit. They really added to the sense of “show”, and with a smoke machine in almost constant use, the overall visual was never anything short of spectacular.

The band, and in particular its female lead singer, were incredibly deft at setting the tone of each piece quickly and with such a richness as to really transport the audience to the depths of Havana. The main instruments were traditional drums, which kept up a pulsating rhythm during the upbeat sections while tempering their intensity for the subtler moments.

Unfortunately what let this show down somewhat was the overwhelming feeling that it felt somewhat under-rehearsed. There were several moments, both in lifts and unison sequences, that the dancers were out of sync or unable to cleanly finish individual moves, making them seem rushed or partially forgotten. Because of this I was unable to ever feel 100% absorbed or relaxed with the performance, worried that at some stage there could be an injury or other faux pas.

It was also a little disappointing that in some sections there was a reliance on pre-recorded sound rather than it all being performed live. However, this show was oozing with energy, charisma and flair and with a bit more polishing could be quite spectacular indeed.

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Steve Griffin  (Seen 8 August)

Visit the Assembly Roxy archive.