The International Dance Festival Birmingham is always a strong season in the Hippodrome’s calendar and Danza Contemporanea De Cuba certainly entertained with their creative and energetic dance show. Playing for the first time in Birmingham, however, they are no stranger to British audiences; their previous UK achievements include their coveted nominations in 2010 from the Olivier Awards, the TMA Awards and the National Dance Awards, all for ‘Mambo 3XXI’.

The dance style of the troupe ranges from a blend of Afro Caribbean rhythms and beats, American modernism jazz and influences from European ballet; no wonder DCC have became their nations most popular contemporary dance troupe.
The night was split into three ‘acts’, each with a different choreographer that allowed for the outline of their own creative minds to be interpreted by the incredibly agile and disciplined cast.

Act 1: ‘Sombrisa’ by Itzik Galili an infusion of ballet and native traditional dance to a very simple drum beat gave the piece a simplistic and minimalist feeling that worked to perfection. Including the cast pretty much in their entirety, the piece remains busy and visually exciting whilst reaming the feminine feel and simplicity that Galili sets out to achieve.
Act 2: ‘Carmen?!’ by Kenneth Kvarnstorm, a chance for the male dancers to shine. Seven leading males take the piece and charge through with a confident masculine ability.

Act 3: ‘Mambo 3XXI’ by George Cespedes, the troupe’s crowd pleasing signature piece that gained their critical acclaim back in 2010 certainly does not disappoint. Cespedes comments ‘My intention was to break the cliché of what Cuba is in music and dance and to present mambo in a way that maybe a new generation would like to see it. This is evolution.’ He certainly achieves this. His interpretation of a ‘new generation’ mambo contains all the important distinctions of the native Cuban dance: turns, combs, cross body leans, hand throws & drops and, of course, the sombrero. It’s his modern take that keeps the audience gripped and entertained along with the big, bouncy beats of the mambo.

The tour continues until June 9 with a week at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre from 29 May – 1 June.

- Kieran Johnson (@KieranJaye)