From Cuba, modern chaos

It may not be revolutionary, but Cuba’s modern dance company is keeping up with the times. More than half a cen tury old, the Danza Contemporanea de Cuba is making its first visit to the US.The two works shown opening night Tuesday are more contemporary than we’d think.

The opener, “Mambo 3XXI,” by company member George Céspedes, alternates sections of awkward, ambivalent encounters and flat-out, super-showy dancing.

The large cast, all in undershirts, enters in silence one by one. The dancers stare balefully at each other, but things quickly veer away from the usual angst to become a driving line dance.

The mood changes back as they approach one another in silence to clasp hands, mismatch and try again with another partner. Two women take off their tops and, wearing strapless bras, dance a loping mambo.

Finally, “Mambo 3XXI” explodes into a finale, in which the dancers come and go in acrobatic leaps and kicks. Each individual section is solidly crafted, but the piece is too schizophrenic to add up — it doesn’t know whether it wants to be modern dance or Riverdance.

“Casi-Casa,” from Swedish choreographer Mats Ek, is a remix of two of Ek’s previous works. It’s all about angst — this time domestic. The curtain rises on three simple props that suggest a home: a door, a stove and a chair with a man sitting in it, staring at the glow of an offstage TV.

There are some good moments, particularly a vigorous dance for five women and their vacuums, or an enigmatic male trio. One man departs, and it seems the other two could be more than roommates.

But a duet, beginning with a woman knocking on a stranger’s door, alternates between tenderness and crass groping. A baby taken out of a smoking oven by its mother is just gross. Ek can do good work, but he’s 66 going on 12.

Still, the rare opportunity to see these strong dancers more than outweighs any reservations about the dances.

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About Particular Cuba
Particular Cuba organizes travel to Cuba. Hotel booking, car rental, package tours, excursions, flights to Cuba.

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