VIDA! is a Mirvish production that is part of the LuminaTO festival. This is the world premier of the show, and the first time in the history of Danza Cuba (the dance company) that a new work is premiering outside Cuba.
The show is vibrant and engaging with wonderful use of movement, music, costume and lighting. Although this is ostensibly a dance piece, there is a little bit of everything in it. Incredible dance numbers are accompanied by wonderful music, both instrumental and vocal. The dances become part of the music, stomping and tapping out a rhythm. And as if the music and dance wasn't enough, the whole piece plays out as a narrative, a story being told from grandmother to granddaughter.
I saw this show with Trina, a photographer with a love of Cuba. Over the last few years she has visited the country several times, including teaching photography workshops there.
Trina loved VIDA!. She connected to it, recognizing dance styles, steps and rituals from her time in Cuba. She said as much as she loved it she would have also wished she understood the words of the songs to give her deeper insight into the story.
We were both impressed the most by the large ensemble pieces. It was amazing to watch as these women seemed to be connected, their movements were so precise and so in synch. But more than just the technical prowess, it was about the energy these numbers created.
The show also features several young girls, and during a number where they were imitating a Spanish woman and her Cuban maid, I couldn't help thinking to myself that that looked exactly like miniature adults. There wasn't the awkwardness I have noticed in child dancers in the past. It was a treat to watch.
The grandmother in the show is played by Omara Portuondo of Bueno Vista Social Club fame, but this isn't a show to go to because of a big name, there are so many talented people involved in this. If you're going for music you won't be disappointed, the show is filled with musicians to enjoy, singing and playing instruments throughout the show, on-stage, on balconies, off stage, it's all beautiful and they are all wonderful musicians.
The show ended with a rousing standing ovation, and to be honest, it's hard not to get caught up with the excitement and I found myself standing up and hooting and hollering with everyone else.
The show is here on a limited run, in fact, there's only a week and a half left. So, if you enjoy Cuban music of the Bueno Vista Social Club ilk, and / or you enjoy dance that is full of energy and influences from all over the worlds, then I suggest you get yourself a ticket before they are all sold out.
- VIDA is playing at the Royal Alexander Theatre (260 King Street W) until June 17
- Ticket prices range from $25 to $85, see the Mirvish website for more details
Photo of The Company of VIDA! by Cylla Von Tiedemann
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