Viengsay Valdes Represents Cuba at Tokyo Ballet Festival

Cuban National Ballet Prima Ballerina Viengsay Valdes considered today an honor to represent her country at the 15th Tokyo Ballet Festival, which brings together world dance figures.

This festival began on July 27th and brings together artists from the best companies of the world. The aim is to provide a general description of the ballet scene today.

The artistic level here is very high and my performances have been exciting, I danced Muñecos, a Cuban piece by choreographer Alberto Mendez, said Valdes after one of her performances.

I did not do it a long time ago and returning to this piece gave some fresh air, I also had the pleasure and honor to work the details with Mendez in Havana, and later transmit them here to my partner, Brazilian Daniel Camargo, leading dancer for the Danish National Ballet, she said.

According to Valdes, if the artists manage to personalized well the characters of the tin soldier and the typical Cuban doll that are found thanks to moonlight magic, they reach the audiences' hearts; and she believes she has achieved it in Tokyo, the same city where the piece was premiered 40 years ago.

Muñecos won in 1978 the Choreography Prize during the 2nd International Ballet Competition in Tokyo, and the relationship between the Cuban and universal dance, along with a dramatic end for the appearance of the sun and the return of the characters to their initial state, still attracts audiences from several countries.

After the closing gala on August 18th, Valdes hopes to return to Cuba to prepare herself to perform during the 26th International Ballet Festival in Havana, to be held from October 28th to November 6th.

  • Published in Culture

Seven-Inning Baseball?

Not the first time the topic is approached, and by the same person, because the chairman of the World Confederation of Baseball and Softball, Italian Ricardo Fraccari has been long pleading for changes in the rules so that, baseball especially becomes more attractive in countries where is not practiced regularly, and stays in the official program of the Olympic Games.

After appearing uninterruptedly since Barcelona-1992 until Beijing-2008, this sport will return to the Olympic games of Tokyo-2020, but Fraccari wants it to stay for good. Fraccari has considered vital the introduction of a few changes to do it more attractive and especially, shorter in time-consuming.

He insists, and he is certainly right about it that the dynamics of current times is that the youth worldwide is not willing to spend more than three hours watching a ball game, when at the same time other sports are on.

That is the main reason for which he has promoted changes, and the most polemic and radical is to downsize the baseball to seven innings.

Purists fall off their seats, but the question here is to be or not to be. Do we prefer to respect rules but remain on the sidelines of the Games? Those who wish to be in the Games must adapt, and the most radical measure is in fact the one of reducing innings.

In his condition as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fraccari realized that doping cases or the lack of the most upper-class professionals was not a big problem, because that also affects other sports. However, in a board of European majority, from countries that don’t play baseball massively, the time used is a key factor. Also, other sports have made important modifications to their rules, but not baseball, and that is also seen as an expression of willing to adapt.

On the other hand, baseball keeps the same rules of its origins, and the little changes done to shorten the time of the game (base on balls with a pitch, chronometer for pitchers, etc.) have not produced a remarkable change in the duration of matches, as it would certainly do to play only seven innings.

I particularly like baseball as it is, but as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s to adapt or die, and I’d rather like the Olympic tournament to be played to seven innings, before none is played. Boxing has different rules in its Olympic style, soccer has age limit, basketball also modifies its rules regarding professionals, however, they are included in the Olympic Games, and it’s enjoyed with its variants.

Baseball could do it too, and keep these regulations only for the Games and its classificatory tournaments. In the end, statistically most challenges are decided before the eighth inning, although to the eye what’s left are the spectacular plays of the ninth inning, or beyond.

It would be a remarkable change, actually, but less traumatic than the other variants on the table, as to leave the count in two strikes and three balls, or similar proposals.

It’s to be or not to be in the Olympic Games, and I’d rather be, although that’s the price to pay for it.

  • Published in Sports

IOC Approves Facilities for Olympic Games in 2020

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved the facilities, for Tokyo 2020, that will host the five new sports recently incorporated into the Olympic Games.

The new sports are, men's baseball, women's softball, karate (both sexes), skateboarding, surfing and climbing.

Baseball and softball will be held in the Yokohama Stadium, built in 1978. The possibility of first round matches taking place in Fukushima (devastated on March 11th, 2011 by a nuclear accident) is still under analysis.

The karate competition will be held in the Nippon Budokan in the Japanese capital, while temporary structures in the Aomi Urban Sports Complex in the city will be installed for skateboarding and rock climbing.

Surfing will be held on the natural waves off Kujukuri Beach, Chiba Prefecture, a hundred kilometers east of Tokyo.

  • Published in Sports
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