Ballet Revolucion is a high-octane extravaganza of incredible technique and bravura dancing. The production is set around a number of loose tableaus that focus on the joy of dance, with rarely less that three members of the company on stage at any one time. While some of the choreography was fairly simple this seemed to be the only way for the dancers to catch their breath- they certainly did not have time to catch their breath between dances mostly because it seemed that they were changing part or all of their costume, but also because there would be usually only a minute or so between settings.
A mix of ballet, contemporary, hip hop and Cuban dance styles (such as mambo), this sensuous production is definitely designed to get the audience excited- it was almost like being at a rock concert at times with the amount of whooping and cheering going on. The choreographers kept the pace and styles moving across each tableau so that each section of dance represented a different feel without focusing solely on big flashy jumps and turns. Interestingly, while there were a lot of big jumps and turns (particularly from the men) these were inserted as accents rather than the choreography focusing entirely on these bravura moments. This is an interesting contrast to traditional ballet where if there is bravura dancing the entire dance is focused on that. Another interesting factor was how the female dancers were organised. The six women were generally organised three on pointe and three in jazz (flat) shoes- with the exception of one dance where there were four on pointe. As with the big jumps of the men, the women used pointe more as an accent rather than a focus and actually worked on demi or entirely flat for much of each choreography, which must be a different sort of challenge for them. What was fascinating was when there were dances where there would be a mix of flat and pointe work to see how the adjusted their movements to accommodate each other and the limitations of both flat and pointe. There was a great mix of balletic elegance and street dance attitude, which melded into a harmonious whole- a feat that would work for very few companies.
Of course the production would not be nearly as effective without the fantastic band who were on stage as well, and expending probably as much energy as the dancers. They brought their own fantastic technique and soul to the proceedings, and their own bravura attitude. While the audience’s visual focus might have been on the dancers the band could certainly not be ignored or subsumed by the dancers, and they did an amazing job of not only supporting the dancers, but also being an important part of the spectacle.
Sadly for New Zealand Ballet Revolucion only performed in Auckland for 6 performances, but if you’re in Australia I highly recommend that you try to catch them on their tour 23 June-31 July.