Sitting in the audience of a dance performance, feeling fully enveloped by the movement, is one of the most delicious experiences I can think of. The Cuban based Malpaso Dance Company brought to Luminato 2018 three mesmerizing performances that, along with the superb accompaniment of Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble, suspended time and transported me to different worlds.

This relatively young company, established in 2012, has quickly become a powerhouse on the international dance stage with its athletic and charismatic dancers, and fresh innovative choreography. The Luminato program included three distinct works.

Dreaming of Lions takes its inspiration from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, a collaboration between artistic director Osnel Delgado with Grammy Award-winning composer Arturo O’Farrill. The work was slippery, seamless and aquatic. The liquid movement evoked a wild beachiness that churned across the stage as the dancers lifted and rolled off of each other, anchored by a sole man’s yearning. The piece utilized unison partnerwork, queering the work by partnering the dancers indifferent to size or gender. Dreaming of Lions was co-commissioned by the Luminato festival.

Indomitable Waltz, choreographed by Canadian Aszure Barton, evoked a quiet inner strength, allowing a choreographic idea to fulfil its most extreme limit. Suspended light bulbs were utilised as a playful experiment that payed off visually in the last moments. There was a cheeky humour to the movement that played between a wink wink absurdity and soulful reflection, the introspection revealing itself subtly at the end.

Tabula Rasa was choreographed by Batsheva Dance Company’s Artistic Director Ohad Naharin and set to Arvo Pärt. This technically challenging work explored duration and the suspension of time. The dancers utilized simple concepts such as tilting, balancing each other, and passing weight back and forth (their own and others) to heightened athletic and suspenseful ends.