Exclusive Interview: Ballet Revolución on evolving dance culture and the uniqueness of Cuban dance identity

The zeitgeist of dance culture is at its height this decade. Various forms of dance are prominently featured in popular culture, with millennials turning to social media to view others performing or even joining competitions to showcase their own skills — you could say it is a revolution of dance. Speaking of the dance revolution, Marina Bay Sands has its own coming soon with the premiere of Ballet Revolución.

Ballet Revolución is a unique dance experience that combines the grace of ballet with contemporary dance, hip-hop, and Cuban passion amidst the backdrop of popular music from singers like Dua Lipa, Justin Timberlake, and Daft Punk, among others. Its arrival in Singapore on 5 and 6 May 2023 coincides with the production’s 10th anniversary, where audiences can expect an exciting array of performances from the talented dancers.

As a dance novice myself, I speak to Roclan Gonzalez Chavez and Mark Brady, the Choreographer and Producer of Ballet Revolución, on how the production imbues the Cuban spirit into the performances, its adaptation to modern tunes, and how it may have an effect on millennials who come to watch.

Looking into dance culture in Cuba, danzón and mambo are two that immediately spring to mind. So it is surprising to learn of ballet’s presence in the country. How does it set itself apart from other styles in the country?

Roclan Gonzalez Chavez: We have one of the best system education in the world. This allows us an excellent preparation for young artists who just start their first steps in the world of art. This helps a culture of art to execute the expression on stage.

Ballet is also seen as an elegant form of dance. Here it is being fused with rather different styles of dance like contemporary dance and hip-hop; perhaps you can elaborate on why and how the team is combining these unique individual styles together?

Roclan: The name says it itself. It’s a revolution of dance. The combination of these three different techniques.

Ballet Revolución: Ballet Fusion
Experience the unique ballet blend in Ballet Revolución

Roclan: The Cuban style is completely different. The amount of rhythms and types of dance that came together for the last 500 years are the rhythms of Africa, the Spanish melody, the French classic dance, Haitifranco dance culture, the American jazz, and others formed the body of the dance of Cuba.

Congratulations on Ballet Revolución reaching a decade! I’m interested to learn how the team has evolved and tuned the choreography over time to align with modern music from singers like Dua Lipa, etc.?

Mark Brady: Thank you very much. We are very proud of the fact that the show is celebrating its 10th anniversary. 

In terms of the evolution process, we decided even before the show first premiered to make sure we refresh the production once every two/three years. By refreshment, I refer to the music in the show and the choreography. As trends change, so has the show… so we have been able to remain current, on-trend and on market. Singapore: We will be seeing the latest production with all the latest music and choreography, and we can’t wait for the reaction.

Roclan: After 10 years of continuous upgrading of our dance technique, the team is happy to combine the modern with the classics.

Tell me about the selection of the music; why were they chosen to accompany the performance?

Mark: Yes, great question… because the show at its heart is a dance show, the music has been chosen specifically with dance in mind. The tracks not only need to be appealing to our audiences, but also to our choreographers, who have to craft their magic from the beats.

In fact, when we first started to conceptualise the show, we started with the music and built everything from there. You could say the music chosen for the show is the foundation from which the show is produced.

Roclan: It was very difficult to choose from all the great artists from all over the world. We could have created 10 different Ballet Revolución, with what there is for our great Dancers.

Mark: It’s interesting because K Pop is also a mixture of dance styles moulded into what we know today as K Pop… in a similar way, the Ballet Revolución Team has choreographed incredible pieces of music by major hit artists. Such as Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Adele, Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake, Prince and many, many more… I know from our World wide audiences that the millennials in Singapore will love it.

Roclan: Every show is visited by at least 3 generations of age. So we don’t appeal to just one particular age group.

Dance culture for millennials is largely influenced by platforms such as TikTok. Do you feel that the performances from the show are translatable to be on such platforms?

Mark: Yes, although we haven’t looked into the TikTok platform for BR, the show is definitely translatable… I think for us it’s interesting and something we are considering for our next 10 years!

Roclan: 100%

Is there anything special that the audience in Singapore can expect for this 10th-anniversary milestone?

Roclan: Lots of happiness, energy, love and vibe. Just like the very first show that we ever did.

Mark:  Well, I think it’s very special that the show is coming to Singapore at this time because our audiences will get to see the latest and most spectacular version of the show we have ever produced.

You simply can’t miss this season, and here a few reasons why:

  • It’s our 10th-anniversary tour, a strictly limited season!
  • We have #1 hits by artists like Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Adele, Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake that will be seen in a different light.
  • Leading Australian choreographer Aaron Cash (Tap Dogs) worked with Cuban choreographer Roclan Gonzalez Chavez to create the unique fusion.
  • Thrilling audiences for 10 years from London to Berlin, Singapore to Dubai, Vienna to Paris… the show has now amassed a huge international fan base.
  • The dancers were trained at one of the world’s most prestigious dance institutions in their home country, the Escuela Nacional de Arte, with its renowned faculty of modern dance, and at the famous Escuela Nacional de Ballet for classical dance– with dance training is strongly promoted in Cuba, as dance means more than art: on the Caribbean island, it means “life”.

Enjoy the ride, Singapore! And we look forward to seeing you very soon!

Ballet Revolución: Event & Booking Details

Ballet Revolución: Dancers

Date: 5 May and 6 May 2023
Location: Sands Theatres, 4 Bayfront Ave, B1, Singapore 018973
Price: A Reserve: S$128, B Reserve: S$98, C Reserve: S$78, D Reserve: S$58 (Prices exclude booking fee)

Tickets for Ballet Revolución can be purchased from the Marina Bay Sands website or from SISTIC Singapore.

Visuals courtesy of Base Entertainment Asia.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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