The October drizzle on press night at the Peacock Theatre meant this midweek audience had good reason to start their evening a little more reserved than normal. Thankfully by the end of the night Ballet Revolucion would have them more than fired up and fully embracing their unique Cuban take on the classical genre.
With a live band, 19 incredibly versatile dancers, flashing lights and chart hits, producer Mark Brady has created a night on the town rather than a night at the theatre – and I loved it for this. Costume designer, Jorge Gonzalez is also worthy of acknowledgement. The volume of costumes the performers get through is quite astonishing and what is worn looks like it has come straight from the Strictly Come Dancing studio. A dramatic red, flowing number in a tango-inspired piece to ‘Roxanne’ demonstrates this perfectly.
The show is relentlessly high energy and features every dance style imaginable from lyrical contemporary (to Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’ and Emeli Sandé’s ‘Clown’) to mambo, jive, tango and of course, a little bit of ballet. Perhaps the company’s name is now a little misleading; this is more a fusion of dance styles delivered with a punch than related to anything classical. That said, pointe shoes and pas de deux are present in most numbers, just perhaps not in a way that all will be familiar with. Those apprehensive about sitting through an entire Swan Lake for the first time could do worse than starting here though.
“Direct from Cuba”, the company is keen to acknowledge its South American roots early on in the show. There are some more lengthy ensemble numbers featuring mainly contemporary choreography and certainly no ballet at this point. As an opener it’s very watchable but doesn’t set the house alight in the way the latter sections of the show do.
As the show progresses, the enthusiasm and power of the male dancers as their flawless, muscular bodies fly across the stage in a whirl of pirouettes is mesmerising. One particular number to Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ showcases this impeccably and the slow tempo means there’s time to admire their more than adequate physiques too. Unfortunately, the audience’s cheers drown out the names of the performers at the curtain call but it would feel wrong for any one of this hard working cast to be praised more than another.
More lively numbers include the anthemic ‘Single Ladies’, ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ and ‘Blurred Lines’. I hate myself for sitting here and typing this but it really did make me want to get up, pour myself a glass of rosé and dance with them. Their passion and sheer musicality was so tangible, combined with a playlist where every song was familiar made for pure dance e-numbers.