Dance from Cuba, like its music, has a hot reputation – beautiful bodies powered by rhythm, sensuality, and instinct. But “Possible Impossible,” which Havana troupe Retazos and Swedish company Memory Wax are performing at Miami Dade County Auditorium this Saturday, deals with how we see things and how we connect (or don’t). Nearly nude men and women back out of a frozen embrace, and video makes bodies twisting on the floor seem to flip into the air.
Like the work we saw from other Cuban troupes presented by Miami-based Copperbridge Foundation, including Malpaso (now a hot item on the national U.S. dance circuit) and Danzabierta (who gave us a haunting vision of Havana in “Malson” back in May), this is a kind of surreal dance theater. Dreamlike, emotional, illogical narratives.
You could argue for European influence here, since dance theater (ahhhhh Pina Bausch) is big there. But though Memory Wax is based in Sweden, Miguel Azcue, who launched the troupe with Swedish dancer Johanna Jonasson in 2004, is originally from Cuba and a founding member of Retazos. Which was started back in 1987 by Chilean dancer Isabel Bustos. Copperbridge is focused on cultural bridge-building between Cuba and Miami (the group presented a dance and video workshop and masterclass with Retazos and Memory Wax at YoungArts on Friday morning), but Retazos’ connections already go far.
(Also gotta note the Cuban-Swedish connection here. Azcue, who is Bustos’ son, met Jonasson when she was visiting Cuba for a popular international dance festival, Ciudad de Movimiento, which Bustos directs. Azcue and Jonasson paired up, married and moved back to Sweden together, although they’re purely artistic partners now. And the great Cuban jazz pianist Bebo Valdes ended up living in Sweden for decades because he fell in love with and married a Swedish woman. Make up your own narrative about the mysterious affinity between tropical islands and Scandinavia.)
Copperbridge founder Geo Darder has been falling in love with Cuban modern dance during his frequent visits to the island. “I’m always seeing new performances and new pieces, and I want to be tapped into contemporary dance and what’s happening in the arts in Cuba,” he says. “I like this particular piece very much. I love the fact they’re using the video and it’s more complex, that it deals with human emotion and it’s intense.”
Others in Miami appear to like that combination as well; as of Friday morning there were just 60 tickets left for Saturday’s show at the Auditorium, where Darder is using a reduced seating configuration with 400 seats. So get yours while you can.