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Cubanía Dance Highlight: the Tocororo pas de deux

Carlos Acosta thrillingly fuses ballet, contemporary and Cuban dance in this Latin-flavoured pas de deux.

By Rachel Thomas (Former Content Producer (Ballet))

16 July 2015 at 1.12pm | 1 Comment

Carlos Acosta’s Tocororo is the semi-autobiographical tale of a young Cuban ballet dancer discovering life and love on the streets of Havana. A sizzling fusion of ballet, contemporary and Cuban styles of dance, Acosta created Tocororo in 2003 for Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. He cast himself and Verónica Corveas from National Ballet of Cuba as the protagonists, and picked a Cuban House Band to accompany the piece. He adapted Tocororo for Cubanía in 2014, and it once again forms the climax of the programme in summer 2015.

Of Tocororo’s many moments of thrilling, dynamic dance, one of its highlights is a duet for Acosta and Corveas. Acosta’s character – who has recently arrived in Havana, fresh from the Cuban countryside – has been snubbed in his balletic advances by a gang of street dancers. All but one of them, that is: the character played by Corveas, who seems to understand and appreciate his virtuoso dancing, and has taken him aside to teach him some of the gang’s Cuban moves.

The duo’s second dance begins with them bursting onto the stage in a series of grand jetés, he grasping her waist and lifting her so that her body ripples. She reaches into arabesque then falls forward, trusting him to catch her and sweep her into a lift, her leg hooked round him in attitude. This charged, explosive pas de deux continues to the spirited violin melody and lively percussion of the onstage Cuban band, displaying the fizzing chemistry between the pair.

Suddenly, there is a drop in the music – Corveas grabs Acosta’s hands and leads him in a passage of dance reminiscent of the gang’s Latin moves we saw earlier in the piece. He has, by now, absorbed this style of movement from her and responds confidently, spinning her under his arms and arching her body backwards. As they break out of hold, their choreography continues to combine elements of ballet, contemporary and Cuban dance, mixing elevated, weightless steps with more grounded, rhythmic movement. The section ends with him lowering her to rest on his outstretched leg, while he extends his arms in an arabesque, to the exultant crash of a cymbal.

The latter half of the duet is more serene, accompanied by a tender melody played by a solo piano, with the pair taking it in turns to dance lovingly for one another. As he sits watching, she adopts his balletic style, beginning a short, lyrical solo with a high arabesque, one arm draped softly over her head. Then it’s his turn, with a whirlwind of chainés and multiple pirouettes ending in with arms in arabesque and a distinctly unballetic ripple of the hips. They come back together and kiss – her arms flung around his neck as he spins her round and round – before walking offstage, ready to face the gang…

Cubanía runs 27 July–2 August 2015. Tickets are still available.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Annabella responded on 17 July 2015 at 9:40pm Reply

    The Pas de Deux is nice but the choreography is too easy for Acosta. He could have danced a higher level technique choreography. It would really make the whole thing more interesting.

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