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Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba Brings "Cuba Vibra!" to The New Victory Theater
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Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba Brings "Cuba Vibra!" to The New Victory Theater

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The New 42nd Street

Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba’s Production of
(Company Facebook Page)

Cuba Vibra!

Lizt Alfonso: Director, Choreographer, Costume Designer
Juan Carlos Coello: Company Manager
Ernesto Hermida: Musical Ensemble Director
Andy Garcia: Piano
Carlos Ernesto Varona: Guitar
Gelin Hau and William Roblejo: Violin
Mayquel González, Trumpet
Hiram Portillo and Otto Santana, Percussion
Rachel Pastor, Vocals

The New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

Press: Christopher Ritz-Totten:
PR Associate, The New 42nd Street

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 13, 2015

Music and Stars, Danzon-Cha, Tea Party (late 1950’s), Quizás…, Spirituality, Neighborhood (1960’s), Besame Mucho, Shake it Out: The Rumba, Hombre, Blackout, Enamorados, Fuerza y Compas, Rumbatucada, Cuba Vibra!

I was so honored to be invited to Opening Night and the After-Party of “Cuba Vibra!”, presented by the enthralling Cuban dance company, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba. My special guests were the Cuban-born, Xiomara Reyes, who performed for over two decades with American Ballet Theatre and danced her Farewell as a Principal Ballerina last May in Giselle, and her husband, Rinat Imaev, who teaches ballet at ABT. Lizt Alfonso, Director and Choreographer, who also composes and designs the costumes, and Juan Carlos Coello, Company Manager, greeted us in the lobby. Ms. Alfonso, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, formed her company, then all women, in 1991. Tonight, three men and seventeen women made up the dance company. An energized, masterful, six-member musical ensemble, led by Ernesto Hermida, who also composed some of tonight’s music and played bass, transported the enthused audience right to Old Havana. The “Cuba Vibra!” program is divided into fourteen dance numbers, some joined by the tremendously talented singer, Rachel Pastor. With a fusion of cha-cha, mambo, rumba, ballet, Broadway, conga, marching, and percussive flamenco, each moment brought stylistic and thematic surprises, plus a dozen or so costume changes.

“Music and Stars” brought out the full dance ensemble, with a tropical Broadway-ballet motif, adding red-black dresses to the mix. “Danzon-Cha” introduced the three male dancers, Joan Morell, Oddebi García, and Jerlandys Milián. Throughout the evening, in dance after dance, these three virtuosos were chivalrous with the women, impassioned in the music, and propulsive in athleticism. In fact, Mr. Morell originally took the stage singing with the music ensemble, before joining the company onstage, not missing a beat. Their backward, gravity-defying cartwheels were astounding, as well as rapidly formed mambo steps. Each man exuded an individual personality, adding romanticism and poignancy to the loosely formatted story, that of the development of Cuban dance and culture, 1950’s to present. “Tea Party”-late 1950’s brought out colorful dresses for the women, featuring Yadira Yasell, Sandra Reyes, Yaraidy Fernández, and the three men. Cha-cha, mambo, and conga ensue, enhanced by Mayquel González’ searing trumpet. In “Quizás”, the tea party ends, and a bit of sexy flirtation enhances the engaging theatricality. “Spirituality” is led by Tamy González, in a mystical, Afro-Cuban setting, with white-hooded robes and candles.

“Neighborhood”-the 1960’s picked up the beat considerably. In fact, Ms. Alfonso brilliantly staged raucous, high-spirited dance judiciously between more subdued or vocal numbers, to add contrast and keep the imagination sparked. Here, three couples begin a rumba, strolling in the sunset, before the band’s percussion section kicks it up a notch to a fiesta ambiance. Singing and dancing fuse into swing, rock and roll, and mambo. This is a party we’d all like to join! The breezy, loose costumes and windy, clavé rhythms, intertwined with swing, kept the multitude of Latin music aficionados and children bouncing in their seats. “Besame Mucho”, gorgeously sung by Ms. Pastor, brought back Yadira Yasell, Sandra Reyes, and Joan Morell. At one point, with both women vying for Mr. Morell, he actually lifts a lady in yellow onto his back, in a spellbinding feat. “Shake It Out: The Rumba” closed the pre-intermission dances with a wild rumba for the entire company. After the break, “Hombre” brought the house down! I have never seen a dance like this, with the entire female ensemble in pants outfits, creating syncopated steps with a cane-like stick, that becomes a stage of percussive, quasi-flamenco, coordinated steps. The repetitive drumbeats resounded, as Tamy González’ led the ensemble with power and pride.

“Blackout” was also steely, with the women in camouflage army outfits and shoes, in marching formations in somber affect. Mr. Morell and Maria Carla Cardona add a bit of yearning and romance to the death-defying, military motif. In “Enamorados”, Yadira Yasell and Jerlandys Milián are a vision in blue, in a spellbinding pas de deux. “Fuerza y Compas” brings the company back out in red-black unitards, led by Ms. González, dancing fierce flamenco. At one point, the women tap the toes of their heels, almost turning them into high-heeled pointe shoes. Next, “Rumbatucada” showcased the male trio, in fused rumba and batucada. Mr. García danced with such joy, matching Mr. Milián’s muscularity and Mr. Morell’s ebullient personality. They made this dance into a friendly competition, with each man adding extra buoyancy and speed to the moment. The final “Cuba Vibra!” brought out the entire company, with full abandon, showing off its superb versatility in song, dance, instrumentals, and warmth. Kudos to all. . .

Yadira Yasell and Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
in "Cuba Vibra" at The New Victory Theater
Courtesy of Felix Miranda

Jerlandys Milián and Sandra Reyes
and Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
in "Cuba Vibra" at The New Victory Theater
Courtesy of Yven Couillard

Jerlandys Milián and Yadira Yasell
and Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
in "Cuba Vibra" at The New Victory Theater
Courtesy of Felix Miranda

Orchestra, Joan Morell, and Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
in "Cuba Vibra" at The New Victory Theater
Courtesy of Felix Miranda

Guests, Xiomara Reyes and Rinat Imaev
in the Audience at Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

LIzt Alfonso, Director and Choreographer,
Juan Carlos Coello, Company Manager,
with Xiomara Reyes and Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
at the Opening Night Party
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Juan Carlos Coello, Xiomara Reyes,
Lizt Alfonso, and Rinat Imaev
at the Opening Night Party
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at