BWW Review: MALPASO DANCE COMPANY at Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center program describes Malpaso Dance Company as "one of the most sought-after Cuban dance companies with a growing international profile." After observing the May 11th performance as part of Kennedy Center's Artes de Cuba celebration, I can wholeheartedly understand that evaluation.
Malpaso, established in 2012, is headed by three of its original founders: Executive Director Fernando Sáez, Artistic Director Osnel Delgado, and Associate Artistic Director Daileidys Carranzana. The latter two lead a troupe of talented dancers in a range of numbers that showcase each dancer's strength, talent, and grace.
The first segment, Indomitable Waltz, is a rhythmic set of performances that displays the dancers' raw talent - it's unique and enthralling, and brings the audience on a full journey. Ocaso, the second segment, is a duet between Delgado and featured dancer Beatriz Garcia, achingly following a relationship that remains uncertain but optimistic as the pair steps off into darkness. The final movement, 24 Hours and a Dog, is joyful and full of energy, culminating in a complex and impressive group dance.
Although it is clear that each performer is incredibly talented in their own right - the women and men trade off leads and partners, and Garcia effortlessly performs the whole second movement barefoot- what is most striking about Malpaso is the fluidity of movement - not just of each dancer, but also of the group as a whole. The dancers harness a striking synchronicity that allows their movements to flow from one member of the group to another, creating an entrancing visual for the audience.
That isn't to say this is all long lines and graceful movement. Malpaso doesn't shy away from using staccato or an occasional slap on a leg or the stage for emphasis, and some movements are deliberately jerky or unfinished. The result is mesmerizing, distinctive, and artfully impressive.
There were a few moments when I was pulled out of the trance Malpaso created - the sound seemed to be a bit off in the final segment, cutting out at odd moments and returning distractingly louder for the finale. But this minor issue didn't detract too much from the overall experience - Malpaso provides a strong performance in its own right.
Malpaso Dance Company is performing at the Kennedy Center as part of the Artes de Cuba celebration on May 11 (reviewed) and May 12.
Photo Credit: Bill Herbert