The cast of Ballet Revolucion | Lyric Theatre

It’s hard to know what the “revolucion” is in Ballet Revolucion. It’s not, overtly, a political piece. Nor is it somehow a history of Fidel, Che and their mates tossing out the Batista regime in 1959. There are no waving flags; no images of the cigar-smoking Bearded One, or Alberto Korda’s iconic Che looming over the stage. Perhaps the revolution is ironic. Perhaps it’s about what revolution — political or otherwise — should be: vibrant, exciting, fun, sexy, beautiful. And Ballet Revolucion is all that.

Thematically, there appears to be no real thread here (another nod to a better revolution perhaps) but there is a structure. Ballet Revolucion is a choreographed snapshot of Cuba. Different dance styles, driven by the pulsing live band, capture aspects of Cuban life, from the Cumbanchero to the Mambo, from contemporary ballet to Ricky Martin and Beyonce.

This being so, I’m on the plane to Cuba tomorrow. This snapshot is one I like. I’ve long been convinced that really good professional dancers are essentially better humans than the rest of us. They look intimidatingly stunning, they move like gazelles even when walking to the store and they carry an unmistakeable X factor. Cuban dancers may be the dancers other dancers aspire to. There is enough latte flesh, enough rippling muscle, enough tight clothing to get the audience sweating. If the swooning sighs audible throughout the room on the night are any indication, punters may leave this show on a cloud.

And that’s even before anyone starts dancing. Nineteen dancers rip up the floor as the music lifts like a high kick and plunges like a heart palpitating neck-line. It’s nice to see that the energy isn’t unrelenting, and there must have a temptation to keep it so with this company of powerhouse dancers. Exquisite sensual slow pieces, borrowing from ballet but modernising and stretching the genre (literally and figuratively) were highlights, allowing the room to breath and get back in their chairs.

The absence of a plot line or story is probably just as well. It’s easy to get lost in the dance and be entranced by the dancers without having to intellectualise or refer to generic signifiers. Eyes flit from one body or dance move to another and the democracy of this revolution ensures that no one truly hogs front-centre. However, I was drawn to Lianett Rodriguez Gonzalez (well, more like fell in love, but anyway …) and Jesus Elias Almenares, who seemed to have the audience in their hands. Moises Leon Noriega, who stole some space with a stunning solo, was also a favourite.

An eight-piece band was only occasionally seen as the screen the hid them was lifted and their wobbly heads and foot thumping added greatly to the vibe. Possibly would have been better to see more of them as that visual added to the energy. With a penchant for some bottom end, I particularly liked tuning into bassist Osmar Salazar Hernandez, who is also the show’s musical director. Luis Palacios Galvez’s congo solo was full of power and verve, right down to his headphones flying off his head as the tempo exploded beneath his blurred hands (and he didn’t miss a beat).

Directly behind my seat, there was a row of Spanish speakers who whooped and hollered throughout. Is this what a real Cuban revolution is like, full of movement and grace and beautiful people and accompanied by passionate energy from the rank and file? A political party that is, well, a party? If so, sign me up; I’ll join that putsch. Ah, but history is rarely such fun. While Ballet Revolucion may not change the wider world, it will likely rock yours.

The details: Ballet Revolucion played the Lyric Theatre, QPAC on June 19-22. The show plays Sydney (June 25-29), the Gold Coast (July 3-6), Toowoomba (July 7), Caloundra (July 8), Maryborough (July 9), Rockhampton (July 10), Townsville (July 12), Cairns (July 13), Mackay (July 14), Melbourne (July 17-20), Adelaide (July 23-27) and Perth (July 30-August 3) — tickets on the event website.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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