Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 8–Sat 12 Apr
To the untrained eye, Cuban dance can seem like one big mass of hip-rolling passion. When in fact the country is rich with individual dance styles, each with its own tale to tell. The history of Cuban dance, and its inextricable relationship with music, is the focus of Havana Rakatan.
Choreographed by Nilda Guerra, one of the country’s most acclaimed dancers, the show takes the melting pot of Cuba and puts it on the stage. A fusion of Spanish styles and African rhythms, Havana Rakatan charts the chronological development of Cuban dance. From the folkloric dance styles of the east to the cosmopolitan nightclubs of Havana, each style has its unique origins.
‘All of the dances have been created for a different moment or place,’ explains Guerra. ‘For example the rumba originates from many people living in one building, and through the music and dance they convey whether life is difficult, easy, happy or sad. Whereas a cha cha cha is more elegant and stylised, and brings couples together in clubs.’
Add to that flamenco, salsa and mambo all performed by 14 dancers and an eight-piece band, and Havana Rakatan brings a colourful slice of South American life to Glasgow. ‘The show tells the history of Cuban music and dance, but also captures our spirit,’ says Guerra. ‘In a country like Cuba there are many things to worry about, but we dance and smile and find a way to be happy.’