By Kristy Johnson.
Ballet Revolución debuted in Australia in 2011 to critical acclaim and has since gone on to excite audiences the world over. An athletic performance company fusing multiple dance styles from ballet to commercial to hip-hop, Ballet Revolución has experienced international success as the high-energy performances of its 20 highly trained Cuban dancers has resulted in sold-out shows overseas.
Now, the hit show is returning to Australia and has said it plans to stay true to its Afro-Cuban dance traditions. Yet, audiences can still expect to see ballet, contemporary and hip-hop-inspired routines to tracks by Chris Brown, Beyonce, Ricky Martin and Usher.
Here, Dance Informa chats with the talented cast and crew.
Juan Carlos – dancer
Why do you think Ballet Revolución has been such a worldwide hit?
I think it’s the combination of a live band, the kind of music that we play and the fact that we are all Cuban. The audience can see the passion and energy that we show in our dance.
As part of the original 2011 cast, did the success of the world premiere surprise you?
Yes, I was really surprised by the impact that it had. We were all really surprised as we didn’t expect the show to be so big.
How important is dance to the Cuban lifestyle?
It’s more than important; it’s really a part of us. It’s part of our normal everyday life. Dance is more than just movement to us. Moving is a way of expression.
How important is it to be versatile as a dancer?
I think it’s very important. The show is about mixing contemporary to ballet to commercial to Latin and even a bit of tango. So it’s very important to be able to dance all styles well.
Having classical ballet training behind you, do you find it helps with the street dance styles?
Classical ballet is very important for every kind of dance style, but with hip-hop and underground dance styles it’s difficult when you’re classically trained. Hip-hop and underground dance is completely different in terms of the training that you get. Classical is more strict and hip-hop can be more energetic than ballet.
There is obviously a great deal of athleticism required. What type of a fitness regime do you have?
We do a warm-up class and ballet class every day. Also, we go to the gym sometimes. Not all the time, as it gets very tiring, but the warm-up and ballet classes are very important as they make you ready for the show.
What’s the vibe like between the dancers? Is there a great sense of camaraderie?
Yeah, it’s very nice to dance on stage! We all support each other.
Aaron Cash – choreographer
Are you surprised at all by the amount of success the production has generated?
I’m pleasantly surprised! You’ll do what you think is a really good show and it goes nowhere, and then you’ll do another show and it’s an instant hit. With this one, I thought the product was really good and I hoped that it would be successful. You always hope, but you never really know. I’m really pleasantly surprised at the amazing success we have had. It’s been incredible.
Do you think it’s the combination of ballet and street dance styles that has made it a success?
Yeah, I think there’s that. I also think it’s the Cuban dancers who are incredibly passionate, and they make my choreography look really good. They’re amazing dancers and talented people. But I think anyone responds to passion and sensuality. It’s a very sexy show mixed with great dance elements. It ticks all the boxes on so many levels. You see girls come with their boyfriends who have no interest in ballet, and by the end of the show the guys are on their feet clapping and cheering! That’s what I love about it.
How different would you say the choreography is to the 2011 Australian show?
It’s pretty much the same show. There’s a couple of new numbers in there and it’s polished. It’s a lot slicker. We were very raw then, as we had only just created the show. So over the last two years we have been refining the finished product.
Would you say versatility and athleticism are the two main requirements to be a dancer in this show?
It’s definitely heavy on that, but it’s also about personality, performance quality, and how you get along in the group. You’re touring with these people sometimes up to five months in a row. You’re basically living with each other, so there has to be some sort of cohesion. It’s like a family.
To find out more and get your tickets, visit www.balletrevolucion.com.au.
Photos courtesy of MGM Publicity & Promotions.