• May 15,2014
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

Havana Rakatan Sadler’s Wells and Blancon Productions Peacock Theatre, 6-24 May 2014

Havana Rakatan is one of those pulsating high voltage Cuban dance shows that showcases the unique dance and music history of the island nation. The show charts a 500 year long journey starting with the Spanish arrival on the island, that sparks the evolution to the most recognisable and popular Cuban dance forms of today –the Salsa, Mambo and the Cha Cha Cha. It is hip swaying, passionate, electrifying dancing with the most brilliant display of Afro dance techniques. Dance is integral to ordinary Cuban life, as the Cuban people’s love of anything musical make even simple movements dancelike.

The essence of the show is its people. From the time of slavery and sugar plantations when dance and music were the only means to keep them going through a life of hardship and poverty, to a gradual intermingling of forms.The fusion is beautifully presented through a simultaneous rendition of Yoruba dance with Flamenco rendition. While Yoruba represents raw animal energy of the slaves, the Flamenco represents the interference of the colonists.

Zapateo, Zumba Antonio, Caringa and Changui are used by dancers to improvise scenes of rural folk culture. Director and Choreographer Nilda Guerra brings the characters to life on stage through her remarkable choreography. The cast excel in spontaneity and perfection. These are some of the most joyous and lively scenes on stage that would transport you to Havana, on the sunny beaches by the vast ocean.

Dance and music of the production perfectly complement each other. The accompaniment by a very talented ensemble of live musicians and singers take the show to a higher plane. Both the male (Michael Pacheco) and female (Geidy Chapman) vocalists are mind blowing in their high octaves. Sections where the creole folklore comes to life through their songs transport you to the early 20th century.

The second segment of the show starts off with the shoulder shaking Mambo- a dance form which had its golden age in the 1940s when Havana gains its popularity for its nightlife and club culture. This is followed by Bolero which is more lyrical and soothing in contrast. The beautiful sequence flows with elegance with an undercurrent of strong passion. Dance numbers based on Cha Cha, Rumba and Salsa wrap up Havana Rakatan deeply rooted in the Afro Carribean culture. They are sensuous, dynamic, bold and challenging bringing the audience to its feet.

The presentation is packaged for family entertainment with a happy young bunch dancing to the closing number alongside its usual adult crowd.

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