The “sparklingly present… and remarkably strong” (The New York Times), Malpaso Dance Company visits the Center for the Arts on October 20 for a spectacular performance with a perfect balance of head and heart. Since forming in 2012, this classically trained Cuban dance troupe has ascended to the top of contemporary dance with performances that are as technically brilliant as they are passionately expressive. As an Associate Company of New York City’s Joyce Theater, Malpaso and the Joyce have worked collaboratively to commission original works from several prominent international choreographers, including Ronald K. Brown, Trey McIntyre, Aszure Barton, Sonya Tayeh, and Robyn Mineko Williams.
The evening’s program features the following repertoire: Indomitable Waltz by Aszure Barton, Why You Follow by Ronald K. Brown, and A Dancing Island by Osnel Delgado.
Premiering in 2017 to rave reviews, Indomitable Waltz is a piece that’s “staged to offer no distractions” which according to 2017 review by D Magazine, “placed all the attention on the dancers, which was extraordinary.” Reviewer Eve Hill-Angus continues to praise the incredible talents of Malpaso’s dancers, stating, “They resembled aerialists, with a stirring romance in unusual balances and the sinuous motions of their hips. Deep bends seemed to open chasms that turned into new movements. And perhaps as an expression of the title, indomitability found expression in a fluidity and follow-through of movement that stirred, their gorgeous arabesques—showing their classical training—caught up in a mesmerizingly unique movement vocabulary.”
During Malpaso’s time in collaboration with Joyce Theater in New York City, a mini-documentary series was created to demonstrate the work and artistry of the company. Watch the video below for a glimpse into Aszure Barton's Indomitable Waltz.
Next, choreographer Ronald K. Brown’s Why You Follow combines African and Cuban folk dance to create a piece that inspires compassion and love when confronted with grief. In a 2020 interview with The Music Center, Brown joins members of Malpaso to discuss their time together. He notes that when he first met the members of Malpaso, he felt their shared need for compassion and understanding, especially as two underrepresented groups of artists. The piece originally premiered with The Joyce Theater in 2014, but the themes remain relevant, embracing the need for love in times of sadness.
To conclude the performance, Malpaso Dance Company presents A Dancing Island, a nickname which the company has lovingly referred to Cuba as in past interviews. Malpaso executive director Fernando Sáez emphasizes the company’s goal to combine traditional Cuban dance with contemporary styles. Sáez states in a 2019 interview with Times-Union, “Our dancers are all graduates of our national dance schools for modern and ballet, and they are all wonderful social dancers as well, something that is typical in Cuba. We want to narrow the gap between the high standards of Cuban dancers and the [ability] level in terms of choreography." Bringing this concept to life, A Dancing Island honors the beauty of Cuban culture and the value it can provide to audiences all over the world.