RAKADAN AND MILONGA
March 1, 2015
Dance and music are Argentina and Cuba’s major exports. American jazz is indebted to Cuba’s complex musical rhythms and the Argentinean tango has fascinated the world since it raided dance floors around 1913.
At City Center as part of their Latin Dance Festival, two companies entertained audiences with superb musicians and accomplished dancers portraying their country’s expert social dances.
From Cuba, Rakadan dance company members performed in front of exceptional musicians strung across the back of the stage. At times, the music was so commanding one could hardly concentrate on the movements. Choreographed by Nilda Guerra, the smart staging keeps the sections moving at a clip.
The themes revolve around the influences of European and African cultures on dances—rumba, mambo-- enriching Cuban life. Hips swing in alternating rhythms against upraised arms and snappy heads. Despite some corny sections, the men and women are equally mobile, energized by the incessant beat. An attractive company, the production was a colorful overview of Cuba’s joyous dance heritage.
For the many who recall Tango Argentina, the most recent production “milonga” choreographed by Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, has more in common with “Dancing With The Stars” than an inward look at the sensual dance known as the tango. Five Argentinean tango dancers and one contemporary (interpretive) couple connect their formidable dance wares.
There was a great deal of flashy acrobatics--spectacular lifts, men hoisting women over their heads and spinning like an ice dancer while razor fast legs cut around men’s thighs and between their legs.
Recalling the Argentinean beauty and warmth, projections of a sun-soaked Buenos Aires flash behind the intense dancers. However, the traditional Argentinean musicians situated in the corner were the major prompnents of tango’s earthy roots.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis