From Cuba to Madrid…Diane Parkes finds out more about the Danza.

Guest blogger, Diane Parkes reports back on her trip to Madrid to preview Danza Contemporanea de Cuba…

Diane Parkes

Diane Parkes

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.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

‘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.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba

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.

The fun has just begun…an exciting 2012 lies ahead!

As we come to the final couple weeks of Oliver!, 2012 has already proved to be an exciting and eventful year. However, as we cross our fingers for the sunshine to return and head into spring and summer, here at Birmingham Hippodrome we have even more to look forward to…

Artists impression of The Voyage...

Artists impression of The Voyage...

The good news is, this summer, we will be providing the city with two major cultural events – both of which are FREE!! Birmingham Hippodrome is delighted to be producing The Voyage (21-24 Jun nightly at 10pm) a spectacular free outdoor event in Birmingham’s Victoria Square which forms part of the opening weekend of the London 2012 Festival.    In a unique global collaboration between Australia’s leading physical theatre and aerial company Legs on the Wall and the UK’s leading outdoor dance company Motionhouse, a giant ship will be constructed in the square and transformed into a live set for a cast of over 160 who will present high wire, extraordinary aerial acrobatics, massive projections on the Town Hall and song and dance.  You can visit www.thevoyage.org.uk for more information.

To add to the flurry of activity in the city centre, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Six Summer Saturdays returns this summer for the third year! Animating the city with the very best outdoor and interactive performance, these FREE events inspired by London 2012, will run over six Saturday’s (7, 14, 21 Jul & 11, 18, 25 Aug) and promise to feature a multitude of exciting sights and sounds. Visit www.sixsummersaturdays.com to find out more.

As well as bringing theatre to the streets of Birmingham, let’s not forget the fantastic activity happening on our main stage! 2012 marks the third International Dance Festival Birmingham (IDFB) This award-winning city-wide festival, co-produced by Birmingham Hippodrome and its partners DanceXchange, attracts artists and companies from all over the world.

Royal Ballet Flanders

Royal Ballet Flanders

Performances include Royal Ballet Flanders (25 & 26 April) who perform the groundbreaking William Forsythe ballet Artifact in Birmingham for the first time, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (8 & 9 May), legendary ballet star Sylvie Guillem and dancer/choreographer Russell Maliphant (11 & 12 May)  perform PUSH; plus the critically-acclaimed hip hop festival, Breakin’ Covention (14 & 15 May) returns to Birmingham with live performances, DJ’s and MC’s in the foyers combined with international artists. Lastly, Birmingham Hippodrome welcomes the sensational Circolombia (16-18 May) who perform their gritty production, Urban, fusing electrifying circus, South American hip hop and reggaeton dance www.idfb.co.uk

To round off a fantastic season we also have blockbuster musicals including The King & I (1 – 5 May), Wonderful Town (22 – 26 May), I Dreamed a Dream (29 May – 2 Jun) Dirty Dancing (4 Jul – 25 Aug) and Sister Act (9 – 20 Oct), phew!! Who’s excited…I cant wait!

…p.s has anyone heard the very exciting news about a certain masked man coming to Birmingham next March…? Friends booking opens 8 May!