music / Canberra Symphony Orchestra, ACTEWAGL Llewellyn Three, Llewellyn Theatre, July 18. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD
HE was head-hunted by Cher for her “Love Hurts” tour, Twyla Tharp hired him as her pas de deux partner, he’s been the go-to choreographer for Paula Abdul, with whom he was also a judge on “So You Think You Can Dance”, but what really interests Brisbane-raised dancer Aaron Cash are hip replacements.
Cash is co-creator, co-choreographer with Cuban choreographer Roclan Gonzalez Chavez, of the “dazzlingly fast-paced, humorous and sizzlingly hot-blooded” Ballet Revolución, coming in a “rebooted” version to the Canberra Theatre.
Speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles, Cash is in a philosophical mood, telling “CityNews”: “Dance is a dangerous profession, I like anything physical, but my hips happen to be my weak point.”
At almost 50, he’s already had two hip replacements, but says: “Honestly, I wear it like a badge of honour, a lot of dancers do that and thank God, technology has given me my freedom, now my faculties are back.”
Given his physical vulnerability, it seems extraordinary that Cash should have chosen to join Cuba’s Ballet Revolución as choreographer. Most dancers, he believes, have an incredible work ethic, but the Cubans have it in spades.
“The boys are incredibly powerful and passionate with big jumps… the guys can do 10 to 15 pirouettes whereas three or four pirouettes are the most I can do,” he says.
“They’re beautiful and controlled dancers who are deep into the musicality.”
A veteran hoofer who trained at Ross Coleman’s performing school and became one of the original Tap Dogs, Cash first got involved with the Cuban group through Jon Lee, an English producer who used to do Shakespeare in the Park shows and went on to co-create “The Bar at Buena Vista”.
During a visit to Cuba Lee saw the so-called “Ballet with Attitude”, phoned Cash and two days later they were in Havana auditioning.
Cash agrees with the proposition that dance is in the DNA of Cubans.
“In Cuba, more than any other country, everybody learns to dance… when you’re a kid, even in the provinces you’re getting into the Mambo, the African dances, the cha-cha-cha, the salsa,” he says.
“Everyone does everything and then, by the age of 12, they send you off to school, and then you can perform in cabaret or contemporary or classical – all the dance schools are structured like Russian hothouses.”
His dancers were all trained at the Castro-initiated Escuela Nacional De Arte, where they are divided into separate pathways for ballet and for modern and folkloric dance.
Cash is particularly impressed by the way Cubans like to export their culture and in that endeavour they are well supported by the government, especially when many of them are so poor.
“It’s a good option for young impoverished dancers,” he says.
“They can travel and they can come home from overseas loaded with stuff for family members who can’t get basic necessities like TV sets.”
Aaron Cash is always busy. Twice a night in LA he hosts the intimate Parisian cabaret, “Nuit Blanche”; he’s got a one-man show this month, a TV judging commitment and, of course, Ballet Revolución.
Of that he says: “It’s amazing, it’s a fun night, lots of energy and lots of passionate music so everybody can forget about their daily worries. My dancers don’t dance with the music, they dance in the music.”
Ballet Revolución, Canberra Theatre, May 9-10. Bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.