Ballet Revolucion's title is a little misleading but this inaccuracy can be forgiven after one has spent 90 minutes being wowed by the charisma and energy of its 17 dancers.
That the dancers have classical training is obvious, but ballet is just one component of a show that uses several dance styles. Fusion may have been done to death, but this Cuban production proves that there is still life in the concept if you have the right dancers and a sensational live band.
Given that blending ballet, contemporary dance and hip-hop is nothing new, perhaps it is unsurprising that Ballet Revolucion's choreography is not ground-breaking and is repetitive at times. Without question it is the cast that is the vital ingredient to the success of this show.
At the risk of sounding cliched, the dancers' indisputable passion for their art form is irresistible. From the moment they march on stage, hips swinging and shoulders shaking, it's impossible not to be won over by their sheer joie de vivre.
Their technical prowess helps, too. On opening night not one pirouette was seen that included fewer than four turns at a time, Juan Carlos Hernandez Osma's pirouettes a la seconde being a highlight for ballet fans in the crowd. The male dancers were frequently to be found about 2m above the stage, performing aerobatic leaps and jumps.
Although the choreography is not earth-shattering by contemporary dance standards, Australian-born Aaron Cash and Cuban Roclan Gonzalez Chavez do provide a pleasing range of moods. With an underlying sensuality throughout, Ballet Revolucion is sometimes humorous, sometimes serious and often downright sexy.
A tango scene is smoothly sultry. Arms reach enticingly, while heads snap to attention. In contrast, a section performed to Cee Lo Green's popular single is all goofy and gangly as a team of men wearing lab-style glasses awkwardly try to seduce a young woman.
Although the music is mostly covers of the likes of Beyonce, Enrique Iglesias and Usher, the band, with its guitars, conga drums and trumpet, provides a distinctly Cuban flavour to the proceedings.
For the most part, the different dance styles sit comfortably together. The one exception is the pointe work scattered throughout. While other classical elements provide a lightness to the work, the pointe parts feel heavy and weighted. In some sections this is exacerbated by the contrast between the dancers' black pants and pink shoes. Changing into black pointes would help to lengthen the dancers' leg lines.Ballet Revolución is flirtatious fun, but contemporary dance aficionados be warned - it's lightweight stuff. If you like the sound of spending an evening with 17 attractive young Cubans who love dancing, however, this show is for you.
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