‘Cuban Spirit’ celebrated with variety, emotion

Katie Dunn

A woman in white lies on the floor as a slow rhythm starts to play. As the slow tempo begins to quicken, her hand rises into the air and pulls her to her feet.
The woman leaps to center stage and begins a ballad of her own in fluid movements to the beats of the band playing behind her. She begins to take control of the stage and demands attention from the crowd, dancing and across the floor.
Eight dance performances were held on Dec. 7 and 8 in the Saville Theater. Each were part of the “Anthology of the Cuban Spirit,” directed by Alicia Rincon with special guest choreographer Silfredo Lao, accompanied by live Cuban music from Luna Llena.
Lao’s showcased dance performance consisted of bright colors and Cuban music. The band sat against the background of the stage as dancers touched, slid and twirled around one another.
Two men, shirtless and wearing white jeans rolled to the knee, created a mock duel with plastic machete’s and a crowd of colorful dancers around them swaying and clapping.
The stage was filled with a quick rotation of dancers moving to the rhythmic beats of the bongos, guitars, drums, and trumpet in a slew of radiant colors.
Lao also preformed a solo dance, gliding across the floor in white attire and black shoes. With salsa inspired moves Lao used any open floor to conduct his chemistry in foot work.
Three our of the eight performances were choreographed by students Jeff Sanchez, Joshua Burks and Keely Campbell who performed a solo dance.
Other choreographers contributing to the production were Terri Shipman, Debi Toth-Ward, Terry Wilson and grace shinhai jun.
The third and seventh performance were both rap and hip-hop inspired. The third performance “Circus Nights” was choreographed by Burks, and the seventh, “Life in the Game,” by Jun.
Although similar in style, at the end of “Life in the Game,” The women shed their black hooded sweaters to reveal brightly colored clothes and a lighter style of dancing.
“It’s just a fun experience to get out there and show the work,” said dancer Rochelle McGhee who preformed in Wilson’s, Celebrate the Beatles.
In the finale of Sanchez “If you are reading this…” four dancers performed monologues in the form of letters written to their loved ones in the event of their death. The performance illustrated two men and two women in war, through sorrow and loss. “I hope my words don’t fall on deaf ears,” said one of the dancers.
“It made me tear up, I was listening to them say goodbye and my heart strings were tugged,” said audience member Debbie Vallone.
Vallone felt Sanchez choreography was the most interesting and compelling performance of the night.
The production ended with a strong applause from the audience and a few standing ovations as the curtain lowered on a stage of dancing colors and music slowly fading.