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Picture: Joe Armitage


Patrick Studio, Birmingham Hippodrome


The long awaited world premiere of Spanish-born choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra’s Mariposa, a queer tragedy inspired by Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, debuted last night as part of the Birmingham International Dance Festival.

DeNada Dance Theatre has continued evolving and transforming since Covid rocked the cocoon and now brings this exquisite contemporary dance Caribbean-based adaptation to Birmingham’s Patrick Centre, where the audience were immediately fluttered to a seedy dockland in 1970s post-revolution Havana.

Mariposa (Harry Alexander), a jaded Cuban sex worker, desperate to escape the clutches of brothel owner Gertrudis (Jaivant Patel), falls deeply in love with Preston (Stan West), a Western sailor. Stan West, who toured with Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, seems a reticent Preston at first and fights to control his passions and desires eventually encompassing the vulnerability of Mariposa’s affections.

As Mariposa and Preston become less tentative, the haunting ship’s call and dark shadows drive an ominous conclusion to the couple’s impulses as political and social constraints drive a Cuban heel down hard on any future aspirations.

An original score by Spanish composer Luis Miguel Cobo embodied Cuban beats with sombre Puccini elements beneath the flickering neon lights as this queer tale of sacrifice and repressed desires emerged through the thick cigar smoke intertwined in a tangle of sex tourists (Stan West, Corey Anand, Michael Marquez) and santeria priestesses (Jaivant Patel, Corey Anand, Michael Marquez, Stan West).

The delicate metamorphosis of Mariposa in Act 2 emphasised the emotional and physical struggles inside and out perfectly illustrated in the form of the pointe ballet shoe, epitomising femininity and gender power struggles against the resistance with Preston’s partner Kate (Corey Anand) at the forefront.

90 minutes of heart-breaking tragedy, love and passion will leave you wanting more and it is clear to see why Guerra is one of the leading queer voices in contemporary dance. A must see! To 01-10-21.

Emma Trimble


Mariposa has one more performance tonight at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre then heads to the  in Leeds on October 12. Tickets are available from the Box Office on 08443385000 or online at

Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre: Tickets: 0113 220 8008 /

Also: Sunday 16 January at 8pm - The Lowry, Salford Quays

Tickets: 0843 208 6000 /  (Tickets on sale soon)

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