February 26, 2024

Last night I had the great pleasure to witness the ballet in Madrid’s Teatro Real, featuring the “Danza Contemporánea de Cuba” – the 20-person Cuban Contemporary Dance Group. No, this was not a tutu-and-pionte-shoe classical ballet, but it did not disappoint, either. And HOW can one not enjoy a night out in Madrid’s Opera House?!?!

The performance consisted of 3 parts:

  • DEMO-N/CRAZY, 32 minutes
  • FOLÍA, 23 minutes
  • MAMBO 3XXI, 33 minutes

The first segment, “DEMO-N/CRAZY“, (image above) started with 6 dancers; 3 female and 3 male, all dancing in nothing but “tighty-whitey” underwear – no tops for any of them. (yes, you read that correctly) Now, that was a surprise! But when you have bodies like theirs… why not?! Later in the first segment – and for the rest of the performance – all female tops were topped. Remember, this is contemporary dance so nearly anything goes – and it did.

The second segment, “FOLÍA“, consisted of all dancers, both male and female, dancing in long, lightweight, red skirts and skintight red tops. Amazing. See the video clip above from 2009. This segment had more music and was more lively than the first part.

The third and last segment, “MAMBO 3XXI“, was the liveliest of the three. All 20 dancers were dressed in street clothes; chino pants and button-down shirts for men, t-shirts and shorts for women, all wearing tennis shoes. This segment was a dance-fest with fast-paced techno-music. Very entertaining!

After the first and second sets there was 20-minute break. My only real criticism of this ballet is that the dancing time was too short and the number of breaks too many. Total ballet time was 1 hour 28 minutes and then 40-minutes in breaks. Although I have to admit the shortness of the segments and the length of the breaks did allow for a very relaxing evening. I was actually thankful.

The contemporary ballet performance was entertaining, seemingly well choreographed, and probably just the right length for those with ADD like me. The Teatro Real itself is, well, the Teatro Real. It really doesn’t get much more elegant than that. At the first break I had a “tostada” (food on toasted bread) and “cava” (sparkling white wine) at the starlit-ceiling bar in the restaurant facing – and with views of – the Plaza de Isabel II (a.k.a. “Plaza de Opera“). At the second break, I went to the fourth floor bar and lounge, the latter of the two offers spectacular views of the illuminated Royal Palace-Palacio Real through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors. In good weather, they often open these doors, allowing the public to go out onto the long, wide terrace with their cava to appreciate the gardens of the Plaza de Oriente below and the Royal Palace at the far end. Just beautiful.

After a pleasant evening at the ballet in Madrid, I went to the somewhat pricey, yet rustic and elegant “Taberna del Alabardero“, located right next to the Teatro Real. I ordered the house specialty, a tapa of the “patatas a lo pobre” (“poorman’s potatoes”) which had the most DELICIOUS garlic & olive-oil sauce and the best bread for dipping/scooping. Mmmm.. This, with a glass of Cune red Rioja wine, was the perfect end to a wonderful night.

Madrid's Teatro Real Foyer 2012Madrid's Teatro Real Auditorium 2012Madrid's Teatro Real 2012: Tostadas and Cava at the Ballet BreakMadrid's Palacio Real at night as seen from the Teatro Real 2012

Also see: “Ballet Nacional de España in Madrid“.

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