Exploring Cuba’s One-of-a-Kind Music and Dance Culture and More

Esteban Aguilar, Dunia Acosta, Danny Rodriguez, Photo by Steven Pisano
Spread the love

Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company always puts on an astounding, must-see show and their
current run at The Joyce is definitely not an exception. Malpaso takes you on a mesmerizing
and energizing journey through three distinct pieces from three different choreographers, all
more than worth your while. These dancers and choreographers show exceptional versatility,
beautiful technical skill in their style of contemporary and traditional/Afro-Cuban fusion, and
radiant personality.

Daniela Miralles, Daileidys Carrazana Esteban Aguilar Danny Rodriguez_Osvaldo Cardero Carlos Valladares, Photo by Steven Pisano

The first piece, Floor… y ando, choreographed by renowned b-girl, Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie
opens the show with a sense of dreaminess that immediately hypnotizes and draws the
audience into the world of Malpaso. Three male dancers enter a dimly and simply lit stage in
silence. The use of silence is prevalent throughout all three pieces in the show and lends itself
to revealing details in the movement while also settling the dancers and the audience into an
environment that is shared and therefore somewhat of the social and pedestrian realms.
Through all three pieces in this show, we are invited in; this is quite refreshing. As live music
trickles into this piece, the three dancers become one in a constant flow of smooth motion. With
sprinkled moments of unison, the dancers move up and down from the floor with powerful ease,
articulate their bodies with beautiful agility, and of course, utilize breaking techniques. Trios are
usually riddled with power dynamics and cause the viewer to deeply analyze and assume the
relationships of the dancers.— this was different. All three dancers moved as a part of a living organism, blurring the lines of the individual, in constant flow, reaction, and interaction with each
other, leaving no sense of power imbalance, just a symbiotic world. The dancers leave the
space with the casualness and euphoria that is a chance, danced encounter; as if we all just
happened to be on the same street at the same time.

Danny Rodriguez, Esteban Aguilar,Photo by Steven Pisano

The next piece, The Last Song, included the majority of the company and still had that feeling of
being in a place other than the stage, placing us in a world that is not performed but just existing
as it is. Choreographed by Daile Carranza, co-founder of Malpaso Dance Company, The Last
Song is a dive into passion, lust, and playfulness. It contains the depth of human relationships
but also plays with the setting of social dance and the silliness, unseriousness, and
simultaneous seriousness of human interaction. Utilizing gesture and close partnered social
dancing, this piece delivered quite detailed and sharp movements but had an overall
smoothness that left the audience in awe. Dancers seamlessly navigated through and to each
other, while also intentionally exploring the different relationships they were placed in with fellow
dancers. This was an impressive exploration of character, experience, presence, and relation
that was unique for each dancer and created such a truly nuanced and enticing energy for the
audience to dive into. As dancers constantly enter and exit the stage, meet, explore, and leave
each other we get to explore the feelings of impermanence and what it means to inhale (literally
and figuratively) the energy of another, let it alter you, and then move on; this infused the piece
with sensuality and intensity. The Last Song was a display of profound emotional depth, true
wittiness, and was a testament to the dancers’ ability to convey complex feelings through
expression and movement.

Daniela Miralles, Esven Gonzalez, Danny Rodriguez, Greta Yero, Ortiz Dunia Acosta, Photo by Steven Pisano

The final piece, A Dancing Island, choreographed by Malpaso co-founder and artistic director,
Osnel Delgado is an absolute showstopper and beautifully strong montage of Cuban music and
dance. This is the type of piece that makes me hate the proscenium and makes me want to
whoop and holler, joining the company in dance. The piece begins with the sounds of waves,
transporting us to the island of Cuba. This motif of water comes back through sound and
movement throughout the piece even as we move from one classic piece of Cuban jazz or son
music to another. It would be impossible for me to include every vignette, solo, duet, big group
moment, and transformative section of this piece but that is for the best. This is the piece you
come to The Joyce to see, without a doubt. A Dancing Island is accompanied by an explosive,
and absolutely phenomenal live band – the musicians and dancers are inseparable! The
beautiful fusion and reworking of contemporary with rumba, rumba guaguancó, danzón, and
more was absolutely incredible and held great profundity and depth about the Cuban culture
and people. This was a celebration that left the audience captivated, exhilarated, and even…

The Joyce Theater Foundation (Linda Shelton, Executive Director) is presenting Malpaso Dance
Company from October 10-15 for the eighth time in the company’s 11-year history, featuring the
New York premiere of A Dancing Island, by Malpaso Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, with an
original score played live by acclaimed saxophonist Ted Nash. The Joyce Theater is located at
175 Eight Avenue, at 19th Street


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.