“Direct from Cuba” beams the publicity for Ballet Revolución. The 18-strong company of dancers are Cuban, most from the same training school in Havana, and they have the distinctively Cuban flair, elasticity, versatility and energy. Nevertheless, the show’s packaging is mainstream international. The live band – Cubans, with British guest singers – play a medley of global pop hits, plus bits of local colour to indicate Argentina (electrotango), Jamaica (Bob Marley) or Spain (Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez).
The dance style is equally eclectic. The opening number features a ballerina courted by four escorts; followed swiftly by music-video choreography with zippily synchronised shoulder snaps and body rolls, acrobatics, showbiz jazz dance, mambo walks, bodypopping and dancehall grind. Every so often, a woman in pointe shoes will flash by, or a man will dash off a dozen pirouettes. The costumes are a veritable fashion fair, mixing dancewear, formal wear and stripperwear.
Despite all this variety, there is a certain sameness to the choreography (by Aaron Cash and Roclan González Chavez), which keeps hitting the same full-on, full-bodied pitch. The pop music, in particular, seems to lay a heavy rhythmic hand on these naturally spry dancers. It is only when the music moves towards more layered, freeform Latin jazz that the dancers really come into their own, digging into the music rather than riding it. Elsewhere, Ballet Revolución is a bit like watching an MTV miscellany while doing cardio in the gym: it pumps you up, delivers an endorphin high, and afterwards you feel rather exhausted.