Cocktail of styles expand out into showcase of spectacular talent.

Driven by the relentless rhythm of their eight-strong Live-Band, Ballet Revolucion's troupe of 20 young Cuban dancers explode on to the stage with the ferocious force of a Caribbean tsunami: spectacularly talented, bodies honed to an athletic and technical perfection, whirling, leaping, twisting, long braids on many of the men flying, through two hours of bedazzlingly complex choreography, virtuosity demanded and met in every hot-blooded second.

The equally virtuosic Live-Band pumps out a programme of music that ranges through Latin American, R'n'B and hip hop, and the dancers follow in a cocktail of styles that expands out from their Afro-Cuban tradition through modern dance, street dance and ballet.

Cuba boasts two famous dance training institutions, the Escuela Nacional de Arte, for modern dance, and the Escuela Nacional de Ballet, for classical dance.

But the potent blending of their products here is not always harmonious: elegant port de bras sit oddly at times atop sensuous pelvic thrust and shimmy and the classical disciplines that make the spectacular possible have to give the lie to the apparent exuberant spontaneity.


But Ballet Revolucion is blatantly more artifice, with undeniable commercial appeal and is often intentionally humorous in its "revolucion" - think a fleeting duet of cygnets, in mankini-style leotards caught in the strobe of a street dance exposition.

The pace in the first half is as demanding as the music is loud. And by the interval, sensory saturation threatens a punch drunk sort of numbness. But the second half brings a more lyrical quality, with a short riff of Spanish guitar and the rolling out of several hits. A beautiful study of relationships with two couples on stage is a welcome change.

The first curtain call is met with a standing ovation - and a curious gravitas on stage. It turns out to be another well-rehearsed ploy - before the final "closing ceremony", in final, spectacular, almost unbelievable style.

What: Ballet Revolucion
Where: Aotea Centre, to June 16.