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DeNada Dance - TORO: Beauty and the Bull

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Currently on a national tour (see link and end), I caught up with this at the Patrick Centre in the Birmingham Hippodrome. I like to see productions in the Patrick Centre. It is small and the action is right in front of your face, especially if you sit in the front row where you are at the same level as the dancers.


So, is this as the name implies Beauty and the Beast but with a Spanish flavour? Basically yes, although the program notes imply that there is a lot more, although this does not come across.


Like all contemporary dance that I have seen, I found it to be quite patchy. Parts are very good, but mostly I found it quite repetitive and dull. The five dancers, one missing due to injury, certainly have loads of energy and made good use of the space. I particularly liked the start of act 2, with the three men displaying their physical strength.


As stated, one of the dancers was unable to perform due to injury and I think all of the dancers had numerous scratches and bruises. Such is the physical nature of the work.


The music is wide ranging and varied. Amongst the pieces are Rimsky Korsakov's Capricho Espanol , Perez Prado's fab rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night and Isaac Albeniz Barcarola. It's a mixed bag and is really interesting. You never know what might come next.


There was a pre-performance warning of sexual scenes, hazing and semi-nudity. I don't think the semi-nudity added anything to the performance. I'm not sure what the bondage style costume of the bull was supposed to represent, but I think we could have done without it.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I saw Toro at the Lowry tonight and really enjoyed it.


I think there are some profound themes to be found within this piece.  As we walked in there was a young woman lying on the stage.  Men gradually appear and there is some interaction between them and the Girl.  At first it seems fun but then a nastier underside to the men comes out and they start abusing the girl.  A bull appears and is also baited by the men.  The bull and the girl find comfort and strength in each other and gradually the men turn on each other and the bull and girl run off together.  That is where act 1 ends.  


There's some great choreography and a most touching duet for the bull and the girl.  Carlos Pons Guerra uses stillness and minimal movement to great effect in building up the touching relationship between the girl and the bull.


In Act 2 the action has moved to a circus and the bull is leading/dancing with other animals (the costumes are splendid in giving the impression of the animal kingdom with impressionistic headdresses, swirly full skirts and gladiatorial leather straps).  At the end of the show we see the girl peeping out as the bull takes the audience acclaim.  Other, more vicious, animals surround the bull and the bull starts to fail.  The girl comes running out from behind the curtains and sacrifices herself to save the bull.  I found the last few minutes profoundly moving.


For me the themes were the viciousness that man can show, how friendship and support can bring strength and the strength of love and sacrifice.


This isn't always an easy watch but it is gripping and moving.


The company were all terrific and it is easy to understand why the incandescent Marivi Da Silva (who performed the role of the bull) was nominated for a Dance Critics' Circle award.  She has total command of the stage and IMHO is a very special performer indeed.

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