I first heard about this show from the drama teacher at school. Now I have far too much work to be going out late on a school night, but from the way she described the show I just knew that I had to see it. Prior to arriving at the theatre I had absolutely no idea what the show was about apart from the fact that it would involve a lot of dancing and Cuban music.
The dancing was absolutely spectacular with aspects of salsa, mambo, jazz, bolero, son, cha-cha-cha and rumba. The dancers were all very impressive and each and everyone had a unique style of dancing. The flexibilities of the dancers was incredible as it allowed them to do all sorts moves with their body that one would've thought were impossible! In addition, I have never seen such an effective use of costume before. It was like the dancer was made for the costume and not the other way round. The twirling and spinning of the costumes created a magnificent effect with spinning wheels of colour all over the stage. There were frills, sequins, ruffles, sparkles, long trains, skimpy swim suits and gorgeous black and white night dresses.
I thought the staging and scene-setting of the whole production was very well done. Initially the musicians
were positioned behind an opaque screen and we had no idea that they were there until the bottom half of the screen magically turned semi-transparent. This had a really cool effect as we could just see the silhouettes of a band and their instruments and it meant that the focus was still very much on the dancers in the forefront. As the show went on the musicians came into greater and greater prominence. The screen was lifted so that we could clearly see the row of musicians and in several scenes they were part of the show (i.e. they were the musicians in the club/in the market). In the second half of the show the musicians often came down from their little raised strip on the stage and onto the main stage and interacted with the dancers. The two main singers and the saxophone player became their own characters alternating between singing with the other musicians and being centre stage. This made the whole show seem a lot more lively and the dancing and music were much more connected.
Whilst there is some plot to the first part of the show, there isn't really any in the second. They've managed to incorporate every single aspect of Cuban life into this production with their love of music and dance. There are some bits which look quite modern, and others which are very traditional with tribes people and the issue of slavery. This meant that there was a huge range of costumes and different styles of dance, everything was exciting and nothing was the same or expected.
The theatre is very easy to find as it is located opposite LSE in the heart of London. The nearest train station Holborn on the central line and from there you walk in pretty much a straight line until you see the theatre. Ticket prices range from £15-£42 but personally I don't believe that spending £42 is worth it when I could see everything perfectly clear from my £15 seat.
This was Havana Rakatan's 5th season and according to my teacher who has been every year, it just gets better and better! Havana Rakatan ends on the 9th of October but there are still tickets for Saturday and Sunday night's shows so if you want to see it this year, get your tickets now! If you've missed Havana Rakatan, don't worry, I'm sure they will be back next year with even better dance moves so keep an eye out for it!
The Sunday Express: "The hottest, the coolest, the sexiest dancers in town. Irresistible"