With its roots in slavery and evolved via the self-made entertainment of its poverty-stricken population, Cuban dance is sensual, rhythmic, provocative and joyous. In Havana Rumba, we are treated to it in all its booty-shaking glory, courtesy of an energetic and athletic cast of dancers and a fantastic live band.
In quasi-musical fashion, a story underpins the fantastic set-pieces, telling the tale of Ramon, the “king of rumba”, and his son Papito, who wishes to escape his surroundings and take his music to the world. This allows the cast & band to create some wonderfully uplifting and at times amusing numbers, such as the superbly choreographed mating dances, or a standout acapella song about pizza (trust me, this works perfectly in context).
The dances’ sensual nature is underlined by the attractive and lithe cast, who seem to wear a succession of ever-smaller outfits as the action moves from Cuba’s townships, dancehalls and beaches and then on to Miami. And although hotpant-clad booties are shaken at every opportunity with gleeful abandon, this is a family friendly show – there’s nothing here the kids won’t have seen before on any Beyonce or Kylie video.
The music deserves at least equal mention to the dance, performed by a talented nine-piece band with an infectious style and enthusiasm. Particular mention has to go to 70-year old Jose Castro, a fantastic singer who also possesses moves that woud put those half / third / quarter his age to shame. During the well-deserved rests and wardrobe changes of the dancers, he appears and immediately transports us to cigar smoke-filled nightclubs and backstreets with writhing rhythms and hip-shaking tunes.
An uplifting and hugely enjoyable show, Havana Rumba deserves packed houses at the EICC and is guaranteed to send you out into the evening with your heart still beating to the rhythm of the rumba.
Havana Rumba runs until August 30th at the EICC. £15 (£12 concession)