REVIEW: Ballet Revolución (Auckland Live)

Yasset Roldan Garciarena truly soars.

Enjoyably engaging [by Sharu Delilkan]

Yasset Roldan Garciarena truly soars.
Yasset Roldan Garciarena truly soars.

If you go to Ballet Revolución with your dance snob’s hat on I’d advise you not to bother. But if you’re interested in having an entertaining night out with the family Ballet Revolución is definitely the one for you.

Yes I agree that their attempt to incorporate classical ballet, contemporary dance and modern hip hop was at times taken a bit too far, but if you go with an open mind to enjoy the ride, and not to poke holes in the artistic dance art form, then you’re guaranteed to experience the most thrilling endorphin rush.

In addition to the visual spectacle that we’re treated to the live band on stage is an added bonus. The combination of music from the eight-strong live Cuban band, performing the infectious rhythms of Latin-America, as well as hits by Sia, Lorde, Beyoncé, Jessie J, Bruno Mars, J Lo, Prince and Rihanna, is phenomenal to say the least. I was really excited to see them on stage soon after the show opened. However I was equally disappointed when the mesh screen separating them from the dancers in the foreground made them literally blend into the background, due to the lighting choices of designer Michael Buenen. If I’m honest I caught myself on a couple of occasions trying to peer beyond the dancers to see the sensational band in action, but failed miserably each time. An easy solution I thought could be using the lighting with spotlights on soloists that were ‘bringing it on’, rather than being entertained by the faceless people performing to the groove. It was almost like trying to ignore the elephant in the room, which ended up being more of a distraction which I’m sure was not the intention.

That being said the entire band, including the fabulous vocalists Noybel Gorgoy Reyes and Burke “Weston” Foster, were the highlight for me. They were tuneful, soulful and downright ‘groove-tastic’ throughout the evening. They were well and truly the heart and soul that created the backbone of the entire show. So kudos to musical director Osmar Salazar Hernandez and your incredible ensemble – you guys totally brought the house down!!!!

Both my ‘date’ for the night and I strongly agreed that the men in the 18-strong dance ensemble distinguished themselves throughout. When they were on stage, sans female counterparts, they seemed to have even more dramatic impact – not just because they were easy on the eye but because of their major stage presence. And speaking of stage presence the dancer that took my breath away, with his agility and movement, was definitely Yasset Roldan Garciarena. His electric presence every time he appeared heightened each performance, particularly his solo and duet pieces during the second half which were indubitably a cut above.

Although I’m not attempting to do a technical dance review, since it’s not my area of expertise, I must admit that the most ‘Cuban‘ flavoured dance segment of the show was the encore danced to Ricky Martin‘s She Bangs. Choreographer Roclan Gonzales Chavez‘s ability to allow the dancers personal expression paid off in spades. This was probably the only real part of the show where we were treated to the raw Cuban energy, which a majority of the show lacked. I personally would have liked more pieces with this refreshingly natural expression, rather than the plethora of set pieces.

As I said when I started, there is no doubt that Ballet Revolución is an explosive fusion that overflows with unbridled passion, pure energy and power. So if that’s your bag make your way to Ballet Revolución before it closes on Sunday. After all who doesn’t enjoy the occasional endorphin rush?

The Ballet Revolución Company and ATA Allstar Artists presents Ballet Revolucion and plays at The Civic until 21 June. Details see Auckland Live

SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Sarah Knox

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