Saturday, 7 January 2017

Double Latin: Contemporary Dance from Cuba and Cherkaoui’s m¡longa

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In The Year of the Swans: My Review of 2016 27 Dec 2016 I wrote that two of the highlights of the year were the visits by NDT2 (see NDT2 at the Lowry 24 April 2016 and Prickling - NDT2 in Bradford 1 May 2016) and Alvin Ailey (see Alvin Ailey in Bradford 29 Sept 2016 and Alvin Ailey in Bradford 8 Oct 2016) to the Alhambra and Lowry. The Alhambra and Lowry are members of a group of theatres in Great Britain and Ireland known as Dance Consortium that collaborate to bring leading dance companies from around the world to the UK and Republic of Ireland. Their website is worth visiting not just for news of current tours but also for the vast accumulation of articles, videos and other resources on dance companies, choreographers and artists to be accessed through the Features page.

This year, the Dance Consortium will bring two Latin American companies to this country:
There are very interesting companies and I look forward to seeing both.  

The Cuban company will present three works that have not yet been seen in the UK: Reversible by Annabelle López Ochoa, The Listening Room by Theo Clinkard and Matria Etnocentra  by George Céspedes. Reversible is described by the Dance Consortium website as:
"Hot Cuban passions, sass and wit all meet in Reversible by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. It delves deep into the path of gender matters, sudden changes in relationships, the games, rivalry and pleasure of being opponents and dissidents. To an eclectic soundtrack including music by Jean-Claude Kerinec & Staff Elmeddah, Kroke, Scanner and Eric Vaarzon Morel, Reversible is a captivating comment on gender, spoken in Lopez Ochoa’s trademark quirky style, this time with a Cuban accent."
The Listening Room was partly funded by the British Council as part of the Islas Creatvas collaboration between the UK and Cuba. The music is by Steve Reich and the work is described as "a celebration of expressive and instinctive dancing" with the dancers in headphones responding to an alternate soundtrack of wildly diverse music and text.   Matria Etnocentra is said to portray "the tension between the fluidity of music and dance and the regimented nature of daily life in Cuba."

Having travelled extensively through Argentina in 1988 and 1998 I am particularly looking forward to Cherkaoui's m¡longa. According to Wikipedia
 "Milonga dance incorporates the same basic elements as Tango but permits a greater relaxation of legs and body. Movement is normally faster, and pauses are less common. It is usually a kind of rhythmic walking without complicated figures, with a more humorous and rustic style in contrast with the serious and dramatic Tango."
Choreographed by  Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui consists of 10 tango dancers from Buenos Aires, two contemporary dancers and a tango band of five musicians. This dance form is enthralling almost hypnotic to watch. Its antecedents are unknown but it developed in the area of Buenos Aires known as La Boca (or "Mouth") which has a history as colourful as the decoration of its houses.

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