By Angela Covo
La Prensa de San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO — This Sunday, the exuberant sounds and dance moves of Cuba will grace the Majestic when “The Kings of Salsa,” on tour in the U.S. from Havana, swing into action to share “el sabor de Cuba” with San Antonio.
Cuban choreographer Roclan González Chavez explained the upcoming performance is more of an experience than a show. And you might want to grab you own dancing shoes because it’s a San Antonio kind of experience: “Es una fiesta – vamos a bailar!”
If the event this Sunday is anything like the troupe’s presentation at New York’s Lehman Center for the Performing Arts last month, where more than 1,700 people were on their feet dancing on the stage and all around the auditorium to the beat of hot Cuban rhythms, Chavez will have accomplished what he set out to do, which is to bring the freshest view of the art scene in Cuba right to our doors.
The whole goal of this international tour from Cuba is to allow a cultural exchange between the two countries.
“Culture has no borders,” Chavez said.
That may be true today, but for almost 60 years, since the U.S. and Cuba parted company in 1962, America has not had many opportunities to see and hear dance and song, Cuban-style.
So this young troupe, hand-selected from the top talent of Cuban-trained dancers and who range in age from 21 to 35, worked hard to bring the cutting edge of Cuban dance to the stage.
“This show was born in Cuba and took years to come together as a real team-effort,” Chavez said. “People will get a glimpse of today’s Cuba – and meet a new generation of Cubans, with cutting- edge dance moves, and today’s expression of contemporary Latin arts and culture.”
And while just Salsa is magical and even addictive in and of itself – this show is much more. According to the program notes, the high-voltage performance get plenty of its cues from and pays homage to the great Cuban performers and dance styles – all the while hanging on to the Chavez’s cool, contemporary twist.
“We are always looking for the new thing, the innovation – we want to give people a taste of that, a glimpse of the modern Cuba,” Chavez explained.
So the flavors should really come to life as we watch this troupe perform classic Cuban dances like the Mambo, Rumba and Cha Cha juxtaposed seamlessly against the Afro-Caribbean flavor of Havana’s modern-day street salsa and modern dance.
And to make sure it’s all completely authentic, Cuba Ashire, an amazing nine-piece band made up of some of Cuba’s top musicians, will set the scene with an electrifying mix of performers and styles filling the Majestic with intoxicating Latin rhythms and stratospheric brass sections.
According to the program notes, the troupe travels all over the world to rave reviews.
Critics from the Bangkok Post said the show “… echoed the beauty of youth and human desire. Undeniably, the male dancers’ ripped bodies and female dancer’s voluptuous figures played a major role in hypnotizing every eye in the hall.”
In Germany, Hamburg Culture & Media said, “Salsa, Rumba, Mambo, Cha Cha and Reggae — The Kings of Salsa exercise their mastery of them all to perfection … with hips gyrating, the senoras flow lithely over the bodies of their partners, whose movements beat out the rhythm like flashes of lightening.”
While Chavez, who is very proud to be in the US representing his country, agrees that such a spectacular show required Cuba’s top-tier talent, he says the results are driven by hard work.
“Really, it’s thanks to God and 10 percent talent/90 percent hard work that we are here,” he said.
Tickets for “Kings of Salsa” are available from ARTS San Antonio at 222 East Houston, or call (210) 226-2891. Tickets and information are also available online at www. artssanantonio.com. The show is one-night only at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20 at the Majestic Theater.