Ballet Revolucion

State Theatre, Sydney, June 25.

IT’S not revolutionary and it’s most certainly not ballet, even though there is some pointe work and many of the dancers in Ballet Revolucion were classically trained in Cuba. This means they were very well trained indeed, as is evident when impressive pirouettes and jetes make a break for it in the middle of energetic contemporary and street dance. It makes no choreographic sense at all but Ballet Revolucion isn’t about the head, or indeed the heart. Think of a part of the anatomy somewhere south of that.

Ballet Revolucion in action
Ballet Revolucion in action

Not every ballet student can make it into the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (and once there, some don’t want to stay; there are frequent defections when the company tours) so there were clearly plenty of fine dancers to pick from when the idea of making an international touring show with a Cuban cast came to pass in 2011. They could well be the dancers who were always going to be too funky for a life of plies and tendus, because they come with a sexy gleam in the eye and plenty of swing in their hips. The loin kings, if you will.

At its best the choreography, particularly for the large ensemble in unison, has a ritualistic, ecstatic quality. At its worst it makes a mad grab for a classical reference or two. The show opens, for instance, with delicate music from the vision scene in Don Quixote and dance entirely at odds with it; later two men do a few steps from the Swan Lake cygnets’ quartet. Are such touches designed to add a bit of class to proceedings? Whatever. As I suggested, thinking isn’t the best way to approach Ballet Revolucion.

A lively band keeps the dancers and audience pumped to the max, playing an eclectic range of music filtered through a vigorous Cuban sensibility. Again there is little sense of coherence as Beyonce, Prince, The Police and Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (featuring trumpet rather than guitar) rub shoulders, but there’s no denying the cumulative effect of the pulsating beat and those strong, handsome men and women. Ballet Revolucion does get the juices flowing.

Ballet Revolucion ends in Sydney on June 30. Then  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 17-21; Adelaide July 23-28; Perth, July 30-August 4.

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