Guest blogger, Diane Parkes reports back on her trip to Madrid to preview Danza Contemporanea de Cuba…
TWO paragraphs into a very hard-to-decipher article from a Spanish newspaper about Danza Contemporanea de Cuba’s visit to Madrid, my concentration is broken by the man next to me – who wants to discuss football. Clearly bored with the lack of entertainment on the plane and having given up on the Spanish student on his other side, he starts with the opening gambit ‘Are you working in Madrid then?’, ‘Yes’ I say politely but firmly, attempting to return to paragraph three. But it is not to be. My neighbour, along with a good many other Stoke City fans, is on this plane from Liverpool to Madrid to watch his team be soundly trounced by Valencia. And he wants to share that fact with me. ‘What are you doing there then?’ is followed by ‘For how long?’ and so on. He can’t quite seem to get his head around the fact that I am going to Madrid for two days to watch a dance performance and interview members of the company. I guess this doesn’t strike him as real work.
My schedule for the next 24 hours is as follows – arrive at hotel, attend company class, eat dinner then see the show. Get up the next morning and interview DCC artistic director Miguel Iglesias and dancer/choreographer George Céspedes. Then back. All sounds fine. Safely off the flight I meet up with a group of journalists and press officers who gamely decide we should take the Metro. Finally we arrive at the Hotel Opera which is literally metres away from the Teatro Real, where the company is due to perform tonight. I reckon I just have time to unpack and grab a cup of tea before class starts… But it is not to be.
‘I am glad you are here’ says my friendly trip organiser ‘as we have rescheduled your interviews for now.’ ‘Now?’ I echo like some fazed out person who has been travelling for eight hours. ‘As in, right now?’ ‘Yes, Miguel and George are just arriving.’ OK, I am a professional and can cope – but can I just have five minutes to dig all of my technical equipment out of the suitcase? ‘That is fine, just give me a shout when you are back down.’ Minutes later I am face to face with Miguel Iglesias who has led DCC for more than 25 years, gradually raising their profile in Cuba and then abroad. DCC have now staged successful tours across Australia, the United States of America and Europe. They began the current tour in Italy, are currently in Spain and will come to the UK in May, taking in two nights at Birmingham Hippodrome on May 8-9.
He is impeccably polite as I apologise for keeping him waiting and he then prepares himself for a barrage of questions. Iglesias measures his words carefully, more, I believe, because he is translating into English than because he is actually cautious. After more video and a bit of chitchat about where he learned his English, George is whisked off and I can finally relax. Or maybe not. Back in the hotel room, the laptop beckons. What with Tweeting, checking emails and filling the Hippodrome in on the change in interview plans, I look at my watch and realise I have missed at least the first 15 minutes of our informal tapas dinner prior to the performance. Fortunately none of the other journalists or press officers are gannets so there is more than enough to go round and a bit of time to get to know each other.
Off to the Teatro Real, the Royal Theatre – a splendid building just across the road from the Royal Palace. First on the bill is Rafael Bonachela’s DEMO-N/CRAZY, a heavily lyrical piece which juxtaposes tenderness and violence – and features topless dancers both male and female. Back to the auditorium for Jan Linkens’ Folia which takes its inspiration from carnival and sees the stage filled with whirling red skirts – on both men and women. Finally we see George Céspedes’ Mambo 3XXI, where 21 dancers swop and change between stylised and synchronised movement into mad leaps of enthusiasm.
My next morning is now free time so I decide to make the most of being in the Spanish capital and fit in some sight-seeing. Two hours and an exhibition at the Prado later I am back at the hotel preparing for the long journey back. It has been a quick insight into DCC but enough to whet my appetite for when they come to Brum later this spring. DCC will be back with a different programme. While Mambo 3XXI is included, it will also feature a sideways look at Bizet’s opera in Kenneth Kvamstrom’s Carmen?! And the big surprise will be a new work by Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili. With more than 60 pieces to his name, Galili has worked with a host of top companies including Rambert, Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater II so his new production is hotly anticipated. I had hoped to get a few insider tips from those in the know during my Madrid visit but quickly discover that, at the moment, the only person who seems to know anything about this work, is Galili himself.
Diane Parkes is a freelance dance writer based in Birmingham
To find out more about Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and to book tickets CLICK HERE.
To read Diane’s article in Birmingham Post CLICK HERE.
Watch an interview with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba choreographer Itzik Galili on BBC News HERE.