Dance of Flight & Fancy @ The Wallis

Cuba’s renowned Malpaso Dance Company brings a slice of Havana, ‘hot dance in the city’ to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
The selection of music is a mix between classic and contemporary to complement and enhance the eclectic moves of the entire company of eleven. Upon opening piece, “Improvisation IV” by John Cage, the audience is introduced to the ensemble, Dunia Acosta, Maria Karla Araujo; Daileidys Carrazana; Osnel Delgado; Beatriz Garcia; Armando Gomez; Abel Rojo, and Lisbeth Saad, almost lifted from a scene in a chorus line, as it were. They are all positioned in a row, center stage with shades of gray, pastel and maroon leotards. One of the simple beauties of most ballet numbers, such as this, is that movement takes precedence, with disappearing, reappearing, and literal leaps and bounds, over plot and narrative. They almost radiate the aura of a combination of angels, butterflies, and toy soldiers with limber agility and dexterity in one. The music by John Cage adds to the classical element, while maestro choreographer Merce Cunningham is superb, as always.
Scene 2, “Ocaso,” (which means sunset) was my personal favorite of the evening, a more contemporary piece, a love story, so intimate and real between two dancers, (Osnel Delgado and Beatriz Garcia) who exude impeccable chemistry. Colorful costumes and moves added to the puppet/ porcelain doll like quality of the dance. The choreography, with creative pas-de-deux and pirouette combinations, was exquisite, set to the music, “Parallel Suns” by Autechre; “White Man Sleeps, Track 2” by Kronos Quartet; and “”Sunlight,” by Max Richter. One of the most compelling vehicles of the two partner ballet is to express intense emotions of love and connection, with both pas de deux and solo variation. They credibly weave a story of an evolving relationship, amidst a world in decline. The dance is whimsical and light, fitting for the instrumental fiddle playing; and the way that Delgado and Garcia flex, bend, and support each other in a tight knit performance, reveal they have completely gained each other’s trust. Strong kudos to choreographer, Osnel Delgado.
Scene 3 “Being/Ser” portrays a romantic /poetic scene, of building bridges, choreographed by newcomer Beatriz Garcia. It is a delicately crafted dance piece, where each dancer supports one another and gradually builds upon each other, much like building blocks, with moves reminding me of somersaults and bows. If only dance movements could talk! The three dancers (Dunia Acosta; Fernando Benet; and Beatriz Garcia) appear fearless, free, fierce, and flighty, almost like birds or butterflies ready to use their wings and soar.
Scene 4, Ohad Naharin, famed Israeli choreographer, in his “Tabula Rasa,” had imagined a simple structure, where “it’s a lot about how you dance, not what you dance.” This urban, modern dance piece, with the ensemble, all in street clothes, is much more about celebrating collaboration and similarities rather than differences. Perhaps the most striking part of the performance, is when the dancers sway to the left and right on stage, almost seeming to lean on each other. The music, “Tabula Rasa” by Arvo Part, enhances the movement, with a melancholic trance and violin that sets the mood. These very fine dancers have the capacity to juxtapose energetic, almost acrobatic-like; then next lay still on the floor. The second half implies a sensual love triangle, with all complexities and emotions therein.
In essence, “life without dance is like life without oxygen…impossible”

About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at and my email is
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