(Reviewed during previews)
Founded in 1988, Danza del Caribe is a well established Cuban based dance company whose work is strongly rooted in the traditional Afro-Caribbean. Their Fringe show Itara, is a short but intense selection from their repertoire, a series of more substantial pieces linked together by brief interludes of music and dance.
The choreography is physical and direct, often requiring much strength from the dancers, and given the length of time the dancers have to be on stage, very demanding. Súlkary, a work by the company’s late Artistic Director Eduardo Rivero, is a dance of fertility and fecundity and is full of raw vitality. This work is influenced by ballet, the choreography of Martha Graham and Cuban folk dance as well as African sculpture, the latter seen in, for example, the abstract movements and stylised facial expressions of the dancers.
The more recent Luz, choreographed by Eduardo Salas—a pupil of Rivero’s and principle dancer of Danza del Caribe—was premiered only last year. It is a celebration of light and life, very much still connected to the legacy of Rivero but more contemporary in style. Another recent work, Los Elementos, acts as the company’s grand finale, ending in a dramatic fire limbo, symbolic of the triumph of life over death.
There is definitely work of genuine quality behind this show, and the band in particular are excellent, but the dancers do not appear to be entirely on form. The dancing seems to lack detail and accuracy, which means that although it is certainly very energetic, it does not deliver creative energy and power. There is also an abundance of theatre and spectacle in this show, but without real precision in its execution, it does not quite come off. Despite everything, it all seems just a little flat.
However, this is still a unique experience and certainly worth going to see. As their run progresses and they bed into an unfamiliar venue, the show will inevitably become tighter and fulfil its true potential.