Malpaso Dance Company brings Cuban flair to Ford Center stage Saturday night

Posted on Jan 26 2018 - 7:56am by Holly Hicks

The Malpaso Dance Company, a premiere dance company from Cuba, will grace the Gertrude C. Ford Center’s stage 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The company, only 5 years old, has gained a notable international profile with its contemporary dance and music. Several students from the Dance on Location, Study Abroad class will be opening for the Malpaso Dance Company.

Jennifer Mizenko, professor of movement and dance at the University of Mississippi, that Osnel Delgado, choreographer and artistic director of Malpaso Dance Company, came to Oxford for a week-long residency in November. During the winter break, her class took a two-week trip to Cuba, where the students danced and learned more about the dance.

“This was an amazing opportunity for the students, and there is now a relationship formed between the University of Mississippi and the Malpaso Dance Company,” Mizenko said.

This was the first time this class was offered. The students will be opening the stage with choreography that was designed by Osnel Delgado himself, for which he drew influence by each student’s individual character.

“It was extraordinary to see Osnel Delgado work with the students and see what they were able to bring out in themselves,” she said.

Founder and executive director of the Cuban Malpaso Dance Company Fernando Sáez speaks on the changing cultural landscape in Cuba at the Croft Institute on Tuesday. Photo by Xinyi Song

Based in Havana, the country’s hottest dance company creates material that embodies its culture and taps into the unparalleled passion that defines Cuban life. Its sparkling programs demonstrate the county’s rich dance tradition hoping to leave audience members dazzled.

Delgado founded the Malpaso Dance Company and leads it with executive director Fernando Saez and dancer and co-founder Daileidys Carrazana. The dance company also tours with 11 talented dancers who represent new and old voices in Cuban choreography.

Blake Fulton, University of Mississippi alumnus, has 13 years of dancing experience and said she sees traces of the Cuban culture in dances choreographed almost everywhere.  

“To me, dances which are strongly influenced or based on Cuban choreography are the most fun to learn and they are amazing to watch,” Fulton said. “The dancing is stunningly creative, and if it were not for this Cuban influence, we would not have as many forms of dancing we use today. Think of salsa, mambo and the danzon – these are all dancing styles that stem from the Cuban culture.”

The most recent addition to the Malpaso Dance Company repertory is “Face the Torrent,” a new set created by Sonya Tayeh, a New York City-based choreographer. “Face the Torrent” was commissioned and featured for its world premiere at the Los Angeles Music Center in 2017.

In 2017 a full-length commission performance was choreographed by Malpaso Dance Company’s own Osnel Delgado. “Dreaming of Lions” featured an original score that was composed by Grammy award-winning, Cuban-American composer Arturo O’Farrill.

Concluding its performance night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, the Malpaso Dance Company will hit the road to tour at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.