A Day in the Life of a Cuban Dancer
If you were ever curious about what a day in the life of a Cuban professional dancer is, Malpaso Dance Company wants to show you. In their first international tour and visit to Philadelphia, the company will share two of their major pieces, “24 hours and a dog” and “Why You Follow.”
The show will be held at the Prince Theater in conjunction with NextMove Dance and will bring an eclectic mix of ballet, modern, and Afro-Cuban dance styles.
The first performance of “24 Hours and a dog” is set to the musical styles of Grammy Award-winning jazz composer Arturo O’Farrill, and combines the expressive and theatrical music to the rhythmic style of dance.
The work is inspired by the daily life of a dancer in Havana from their morning routine, to hours perfecting their craft in the studio. The story ends at G street, a popular nightlife destination in the city. A creative effort by the company it’s the original work that showgoers can look forward to on the 15th. “24 hours and a dog was the first collective creation of the company. The dancers were very involved in the whole improvisation process in developing the material,” Fernando Saez, one of the founders of Malpaso stated.
The second half of the performance is a rendition of Ronald K. Brown’s Why You Follow (2014) is an exploration of the rhythmic pace of Afro-Cuba. This ensemble develops in four sections: Open Heart, Commitment, The Path, and Faithfully Forward to music by Zap Mama, Gordheaven & Juliano,
The Allenko Brotherhood, and Heavy Quarterz. “His style is also about blending. He blends elements of the American dance tradition with elements of the African dance style and in this case he also worked to include elements of the Afro-Cuban dance culture” Saez said.
Founded by Fernando Saéz, Daileidys Carrazana, and Osnel Delgado, the history of Malpaso Dance Company is based on organic growth and dedication. When 3 dancers who had prominent dance careers in Cuban came together to form their own company, many times, their solo shows were the stock of their performances. But once the company grew to 16 people without ever holding a formal audition. The founders shared that they didn’t want that pressure to be added to dance but rather wanted to see who organically could work with the dance company.
“We feel that collaborations are the most efficient way of fighting our own assumptions, of confronting ourselves and our teachers and accumulated solutions,” Saez said.
From December 2012 to the present, the company steadily grew, experimenting with dance styles and finding a collective style of dance that truly reflected who they were and what it truly meant to go to a Malpaso show. “It was important to us to think on touring after developing the company. The intention at first was to develop and consolidate a good repertoire. We were not thinking as much about touring - that was not a goal - it was a consequence of the work we developed and a consequence of the relationships we developed with international choreographers,” Saez stated. Cuban to the core, one of the founders shared that though it is never their intention to make the show a Cuban dance show, “We have no choice but to express our Cubanness when we are dancing because we are Cuban. I think that present in our choreography because of the physicality of the dances and the versatility of the dancers,” Saez stated.