Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba Debuts in Philadelphia at The Merriam Theater as Part of First U.S. East Coast Tour, May 24-25

APRIL 21, 2011

Co-presented by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Dance Affiliates

 

Cuba’s world-class contemporary dance company, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, makes its Philadelphia debut at the Merriam Theater on Tuesday - Wednesday, May 24-25, 2011 at 7:30pm, as part of their first U.S. Tour. Featuring 21 gifted dancers, the troupe will introduce American audiences to its authentic blend of contemporary, Afro-Caribbean, Spanish and European dance styles that encapsulate the spirit of contemporary Cuban dance. The program includes: Rafael Bonachela’s electrifying Demo-N/Crazy, Pedro Ruiz’s sensual Horizonte, and George Cespédes’ athletic Mambo 3XXI.

 

Due to the United States’ embargo against Cuba, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba has never performed in the United States until now.  Dance enthusiasts may now experience Cuba’s finest dance company, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, on their first U.S. Tour in the following additional locations: Virginia Festival of the Arts, New York’s Joyce Theater and Boston’s Strand Theatre.

 

In addition to the two public performances, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba will conduct outreach activities including a master class at University of the Arts, Tuesday, May 24 at 1pm; a free student matinee on Wednesday, May 25 at 11am at The Merriam Theater, as well as visits to local schools and dance studios. For more information contact Kimmel Center’s Director of Education Julia Lopez, jlopez@kimmelcenter.org.

 

 “A half-century later, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba has evolved a style of dance unlike any other: soaked in the essence of Cuba (heat, music and rhythm in a melting pot-full of African, Caribbean, Hispanic and American culture); based on athleticism, rigorous discipline and infectious charisma; and anchored in a surprisingly casual and unprepossessing attitude.” —Londondance.com

 

Tickets to Danza Contemporánea de Cuba are available for $16 - $51, and can be purchased online at www.kimmelcenter.org, in person at the Kimmel Center’s Box Office, 260 S. Broad Street, or by calling 215-893-1999.

 

Dance has been an essential component of Cuban life since the first West African slaves were brought there in the 16th century.  In 1959, Ramiro Guerra, who trained with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and José Limón founded the Conjunto Nacional de Danza Moderna (National Modern Dance Group).  He shaped Conjunto's repertoire into a blend of modern American theatre, Afro-Caribbean dance styles and classical European ballet.  The name changed to Danza Contemporánea de Cuba (DCC), but the premise remained. The troupe consists of 60 dancers drawn from the Escuela Nacional de Arte, Cuba's national art school. Now, under the direction of Miguel Iglesias who danced with the company in 1975, DCC presents its dancers with exceptional opportunities and varying, challenging works. With 70 works in its active repertoire, DCC has toured throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

 

Demo-N Crazy, a 35-minute high-energy dance, explores human relations - love, challenges and loneliness. It is set to an eclectic score of music by the Razones, Julia Wolfe (of which her music Arsenal of Democracy is a play on the title) and Estrella Morente. Choreographed by Spaniard Rafael Bonachela (winner of the distinctive Place Prize Award and artistic director of Bonachela Dance Company), the work “makes for an exciting, even thrilling piece of dance, made more so by the unexpected movement language.” (The British Theater Guide) Bonachela built this work around duets that are simultaneously tender and violent interspersed with complex patterns performed by large ensembles that fearlessly fly and flail through the space with great skill and abandon.

 

Horizonte features Pedro Ruiz’s vibrant and passionate choreography. Ruiz was Ballet Hispanico’s principal dancer for 21 years and is the first American-Cuban choreographer to set a work on Danza in its 62-year history.  Inspired by the music of Aaron Jaffee and Rodrigo y Gabriela, and the movement, shapes and expressiveness of the dancers, Horizonte is “a mural that changes every day moved by storms color.” (Alfonso Gumucio Dagron) The choreography is filled with stunning lifts, sensual embraces, ecstatic jumps, and large ensemble sections with dancers connected and enwrapped with one another. Eduardo Arrocha’s colorful costumes (dresses, shorts, unitards) in rich hues of purple, blue, and pink complement Ruiz’s choreographic vision to transport you to a tropical paradise.

 

The program closes with Mambo 3XXI (2009), an explosion of music and dance choreographed by Cuban born and trained George Enrique Cespédes. The 35-minute piece has the feel of being in downtown Havana (or in gym class) with dancers dressed in khaki pants, shorts, sneakers and tee shirts. Cespédes deconstructs Cuba’s treasured Mambo, set to Nacional Electronica’s exhilarating score that fuses disco, techno, house and ambient street music. Twenty dancers move vigorously in military formations in perfect sync with legs kicking, shoulder shimmying, and fingers tapping, juxtaposed with breathtaking solos and duets and inventive use of space as if freed from restrictions. The Guardian exclaims, “Brilliant. Like 1960s minimalism drunk on mojitos.”  

 

About Dance Affiliates

Founded in 1983 by artistic director Randy Swartz, Dance Affiliates is one of the nation’s few remaining dance-only presenters.  Its Dance Celebration program is Philadelphia’s most acclaimed and longest-running series of world-class contemporary dance, having presented 200 companies in 1,500 performances.  In addition, more than 600 outreach programs have provided a wealth of opportunities for the Philadelphia–area community to interact with visiting dance artists through master classes, residencies, artistic collaborations, symposiums, film screenings, workshops, special student programs, and pre and post performance curtain talks, serving more than 30,000 students and aspiring dancers.

 

In addition to its original production of Thank You Gregory: A Tribute to the Legends of Tap, in 2005, which was revised for a national tour in 2009-2010,  Dance Affiliates also conceived and produced The Music That Made Us Dance: From Lindy to Hip Hop in 2006, its first-ever commission for the series featuring Philadelphia’s most inventive choreographers and dancers.  Dance Affiliates has also commissioned a dozen world-premieres by prominent choreographers-- Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Frank Chaves, Danny Ezralow, Bill T. Jones, David Gordon, Eliot Feld and Bella Lewitzky.

 

Major funding for this presentation has been provided by the William Penn Foundation.

 

Kimmel Center, Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit organization, owns, manages, supports and maintains The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater, Innovation Studio and the Merck Arts Education Center.  Kimmel Center, Inc. also manages the Academy of Music, owned by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and the University of the Arts Merriam Theater. Our mission is to operate a world-class performing arts center that engages and serves a broad audience from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. The 2010/2011 season is sponsored by Citi, and the Broadway 2010/2011 season is sponsored by Verizon, and American Airlines.  For additional information, visit kimmelcenter.org.

 

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