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Alice Ripoll: Zona Franca at the Southbank Centre

This dance show is a glitter-strewn staging performed by the Brazilian dance company CIA Suave with choreography by Alice Ripoli. The ensemble presents on stage a group dynamic similar to student friends in the UK, describing them sharing and relishing their new adulthood and sexuality, a sex life.

ZONA FRANCA - Credit Renato Mangolin.
ZONA FRANCA – Credit Renato Mangolin.

However beyond a Tik Tok form of physical prowess on stage there didn’t seem much else to discover in the show, leaving a distinct impression of superficiality.

There was an attempt to suggest revealing one’s body might also bring a liberating reveal of the self but this too fails to engage. In 2023 UK there’s nothing innovative about female dancers repetitively assuming overt sexual positions. This choreography may play differently elsewhere but in London this comes across as misogyny, also limiting the female performers to trope roles.

One low was a dancer twerking each buttock in turn as she was pushed on a table across the stage. At another point, the choreography was identical to a notably sexist music video popular in Italy a few years ago.

Despite these problems, the production was often elevated by the brilliant and exciting dancing of some of the male performers.

It is possible the show may appeal to an 18-22 age group instead of the older audience who attended press night at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre. If you’re much more than 25 however it’s unlikely.

3 Star Review

Review by Marian Kennedy

Dance company Cia Suave and Alice Ripoll present Zona Franca, a vibrantly political and poetic experience, connecting eclectic Brazilian dance styles.

Alice Ripoll: Zona Franca
2 –⁠ 4 Nov, 7.30pm
Queen Elizabeth Hall

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