THE TECHNIQUE

Cuba's history is very diverse. It's colonial influences from Europe mixed with the African heritage of slavery and other Creoles from the Caribbean. Then American culture ruled the island, before the revolution took place. Communism generated a completely different system of values. Cultural expressions like dancing were and still are on top of its agenda. Free academic education in music, dance and arts was provided and the creativity flourished, state-run dance companies and art universities were founded and created the identity of today's proud Cuban nation.

Cuban contemporary, in the latin dance world also known as "la técnica cubana", evolved under extraordinary circumstances. North American modern technique (Duncan, Graham, Sokolow, Limón, Cunningham) and European ballet (Ballet Alicia Alonso) met with African traditions and popular influences of creole colonial ballroom dance. In the island's isolation a unique new form of contemporary dance developed on arts university. Cuba's profound academic training today also includes composition, improvisation, partnerwork, theater and musical training, technical didactics, anatomy, methodology of centerwork, floorwork, barre, total- and partial-space work.

Yusimi Moya Rodriguez
Yusimi Moya Rodriguez
Contraction and Release technique is combined with spine undulation movements from African dance styles. This wave-like movement starts at the pelvis and moves up the torso, where it is combined with independent movements of body parts in a complex rhythmic coordination. The dance is polycentric and the body is not thought of as a single unit but as a combination of different parts, each one feeling its own rhythm. Unusual head and torso isolations are added to ballet technique, Graham and Cunningham brought to a musically more complex and dynamic level. Cuban Contemporary technique is a challenge for every dancer with ambitions – and it's fun accepting the challenge!

Choreographer and dance critic Suki John describes her first encounter with rehearsing cuban dancers as follows: "I have never seen dancers so versatile, so able! They soar and spin and dive to the floor, spiral swiftly back to standing, vibrate their torsos, and stretch their legs in sculpted lines. They'll finish a flying tour jeté with a daring plunge to the shoulder. They perch on one leg, head cocked to the side like tropical birds, listening. They dance with such rhythmic complexity, such sensuality, such confidence-they are unlike any dancers I have ever seen!"
Quoted from the highly recommended book of Suki John: Contemporary Dance in Cuba. Técnica Cubana as Revolutionary Movement. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012.