24 Horas Y Un Perro (24 Hours and a Dog | MalPaso Dance Company’s United States Premiere at the Joyce….
The United States premiere for MalPaso Dance Company, as well as their first appearance outside of Cuba, was at the Joyce Theater. The MalPaso Dance Company was founded two years ago by Osnel Delgado and Daile Carrazana Gonzalez, both former members of Danza Contemporánea de Cuba.
The evening opened with 24 Horas Y Un Perro (24 Hours and a Dog), a 44 minute piece choreographed by the artistic director Osnel Delgado. An added benefit, so sadly missing in so many NYC dance performances was that the score by Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill , was performed live.
The movement for 24 Horas Y Un Perro (24 Hours and a Dog) is so relaxed, so intrinsic to the body that it appears improvisational. Something the dancers just whipped out of their body without forethought, allowing themselves to become conduits of expression that listens to the body’s natural rhythms, breath, pulse, heartbeat.
You immediately get the urban feel both from Mr. O’Farrill’s score, a fusion of the Latin culture with jazz, plus with the backdrop of city a skyline, on black but outlined with yellow. The work begins with Mr. Delgado moving slowly, almost contemplative in salience. When music is heard he begins to move fully, from standing he goes to the knees then back to standing then rolling, tumbling.
Four others join him on stage, a couple takes center stage and begins a duet that has an anger, not outright hostility but as if something needs resolving, an energy, strained, seems to run under their skin.
Dancers walk on and off the stage consistently during the piece. Groups work together in chorus, then it becomes a canon of movement that breaks into solos and duets. The work is abstract in form and the movement is original to its core.
It’s as if Mr. Delgado went into the studio and just started dancing. Technique is there, in fact all the dancers are impeccable trained, but the dancing does not rely on technique, the proper placement of an arm or leg in accordance with classical vocabulary. It is something much more free, technique is not so much thrown away nor is it deconstructed, but rather its rules and regulations have been discarded, stripped away, leaving pure movement that is pure expression.
Men and women are equal in partnering; an established camaraderie exists that shows the women are as strong as the men, physical and emotional equals, neither is reliant on the other but accepts and appreciates the others presence.
Small movements escalate into larger movements rapidly. Using both hands the dancers turn the head to their right as they release the head it turns back to front, shoulders scrunch and arms are raised to shoulder level, this is followed through by fuller body movement. This type of phrasing and variations of it run through the dance like a weave, the beginning threads of a tapestry of movement.
Individuality is expressed as a dancer steps from the group to establish a separate phrase of movement then that being done by the other dancers. He then rejoins the group and two more dancers step out, then three and back to one. But is more than just an expression of individuality being stated, but also an expression of freedom, an expression of strength, a certain fearlessness noted.
After witnessing MalPaso Dance Company I have to call into question the United States embargo against Cuba (known in Cuba as el bloqueo), who has it affected the most. The people of Cuba who are denied access to the United States and the many trade sanctions imposed…or is it the United States, for we are denied the access and possible influence of the rich Cuban culture, a culture just 90 miles of Florida’s shore….
Osnel Delgado has received major Cuban awards including the Premio a Mejor Coreografia del Concurso Solamente Solos (Award for Best Solo Choreography), and a Special Mention award at the VII Iberomerican “Alicia Alonso” Choreography competition in Madrid. He was a member of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba from 2003 to 2011 and founded MalPaso Dance Company in 2013, where he currently serves as choreographer and artistic director.