It was a bold move when Osnel Delgado and Daileidys Carrazana left Danza Contemporánea de Cuba to form their own company, with Fernando Sáez, in 2012. And it was even cheekier when they named their troupe after the Spanish word for “misstep.”
Malpaso Dance Company, returning to the Joyce Theater on Wednesday, is a leading contemporary group in Cuba. But while its dancers remain driven and invigorating, the three works on the Joyce program, including New York premieres by Aszure Barton and Sonya Tayeh, paid unintentional homage to the company’s name: They were missteps.
At times, Ms. Barton’s “Indomitable Waltz,” which she described in a program interview as an “intimate exploration of the soul,” had a somber, contemplative approach. (When she was creating it, her father was ill.) But little about it felt persuasive until the final solo when Dunia Acosta was left alone to inch her way across the stage with swiveling steps and measured moments of stillness.
Set to music by the Balanescu Quartet, Michael Nyman and Nils Frahm, “Indomitable Waltz” unfolded as a series of vignettes with flipping moods that made it difficult to pin down what emotion Ms. Barton was after. Sometimes yearning, sometimes playful — typically (and annoyingly) whenever the women were featured — its manner was both bumpy and predictable.
It wasn’t difficult to grasp where she was going with her movement, which was highlighted by loose joints: Knees bent into deep pliés and arms rippled out like slippery fabric. The men, at times, became rubbery acrobats, bending, buckling and then springing back to life.
But where was the composition? The frequent sight of evenly spaced dancers, dressed simply in grays and blacks, was overly static. By the time Ms. Acosta’s solo rolled around, it seemed as if the dance was finally starting. It was too late.