‘Ciberdanz’ is one of the new productions of the Animation team at Cuba’s national film institute, ICAIC. The first season of the series consists of eight 13-minute episodes. Its main target audience will be teenagers, and its 3D animations aim to have a very attractive and contemporary look.
At the studios CubanNow spoke with the independent filmmaker Danny De León Hernández who explains the plot of this very complex and innovative project.
According to the director, the character Celax (voice of actor Ángel Luis Martínez) is the villain of the series. In a prequel, it will be explained that he was a prince who rebelled against his father and killed his brother: the one chosen to be king. As punishment, the parents lock him in a virtual world called the Dancer Motor, in homage to his brother who was so cheerful and musical. To weaken his powers, they divide his body into seven parts (seals).
Despite this, Celax manages to introduce people from the outside world to the place where he is locked up and makes them face each other through dance challenges. That is the only way to break the seals and recover the parts of his body. When someone fails to break the seals, they are trapped in that place and become part of that corrupt system.
The protagonist is Denis (voice of Ray Cruz), who has the gift of perfect pitch, which allows him to listen to a musical theme only once and reproduce it – note by note – as it is. That provides some exceptional conditions for dancing.
Denis selects two other 16-year-old boys with similar dance abilities as his. The last thing the teenagers remember is that they were rehearsing in an alley when they were abducted into a virtual world, unknown to them.
“We look for references in various places. Some of the designs are mine, some of Ángel Menéndez. I had an initial proposal that was undergoing transformations as we progressed. We are a small team and almost everyone contributed until we reached the final design”, says the director.
In the first episode, rhythms such as reggaeton and disco are heard and danced to, but the series will encompass genres such as breakdance, jazz, rock, merengue, fusion, trap, and other traditional Cuban genres of music and dance such as son montuno, chachachá, danzón, songo, mambo, guaracha, salsa. The music of the musical duo Jaleo is part of the soundtrack.
De León Hernández has a self-taught musical training. He knows how to play the piano and the bass: “I have played with a few groups and that has allowed me to work on this concept. A cousin of mine, who is a dancer and works at the Cirque du Soleil, has advised me on the dance part”, he confesses.
Right now the team is finishing the first episode of Ciberdanz. “As it is the pilot, we work with few animators, seeking to set guidelines that serve as a reference for those who join later. Next year we will start doing the other episodes of the first season.”
Although the series is primarily aimed at teenagers, Danny’s intention is for it to be seen and enjoyed by children and adults as well. “I hope it is to the liking and enjoyment of all. It will help them learn to dance and feel identified with the characters”, concludes the director.
Technical team: Executive Producers: Esther Hirzel and Armando Alba, Direction: Danny DeLeon, Production direction: Andrea Fabiani, Character Design: Angel Menendez, Art Direction: David Rodríguez García, Animation Director: Rafael Collantes, Storyboard: Rafael Collantes and Danny De Leon. Main actors: Angel Luis Hernandez, Ray Cruz, Lesvy Samper, Michael Chavez
In an interview with CubaSi.cu director Danny de Leon said:
“The most complex part of the creative process has been mixing popular and traditional Cuban music with other genres, with futuristic and technological elements typical of the video game, to create the different dance challenges.”
Watch the teaser for the making of the animation ‘Ciberdanz’ on youtube