World Ballet Stars to Dance at Havana Festival

Havana.- The Alicia Alonso International Ballet Festival of Havana stands as an exceptional opportunity for ballet lovers from around the world.

As organizer of this festival, Cuba's National Ballet Company (BNC) recently announced that the event will be held from October 28 to November 6.

The upcoming 26th edition will mark the 70 years of BNC founding by Alicia, Fernando and Alberto Alonso, on October 28, 1948.

The festival's program will feature the season marking the 75 years of Alicia Alonso's debut in Giselle, which is expected to be performed by first dancers from Cuba and other countries.

Dancers with the prestigious Cuban Ballet Company will alternate with artists and companies from other countries during the shows. Some of them will premiere pieces in Cuba.

The main venues for the biennial festival will be the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, the Avellaneda and Covarrubias Halls at Teatro Nacional and Mella and Marti Theaters. The Ballet Company of the Grand Theater of Geneva, Switzerland; the National Ballet Company of Prague, Czech Republic; and the Danish Dance Theater of Denmark are among the foreign companies expected to perform in the festival.

Moreover, dancers of the New York City Ballet will bring the show 'Stars of American Ballet,' featuring names such as Daniel Ulbricht, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, Sterling Hyltin, Adrian Danchig Waring, Indiana Woodward and Gonzalo García.

HeeSeo, Isabella Boylston, Alban Lendorf and Cory Stearns will come for the American Ballet Theater, while Camila Bocca, Juan Pablo Ledo, Macarena Gimenez and Maximiliano Iglesias will represent the Buenos Aires Colon Ballet Theater of Argentina.

The lead dancer of the New York City Ballet, Spanish Joaquin de Luz, will return to the Cuban festival, while U.S. Rasta Thomas will perform for the first time in the event presided over by Cuban Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso.

Other dancers who have confirmed their attendance are Rainer Krenstetter, of the Miami City Ballet, USA, and Marian Walter, of the Munich Ballet, Germany.

With more than 50 years of history, the International Ballet Festival of Havana favors the exchange between internationally renowned lead dancers, personalities, critics and businesspeople.

In order to honor Alicia Alonso, British choreographer Cathy Marston is preparing a ballet piece inspired by William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The choreographer will turn the play's original male protagonist, Prosperous, into an equivalent female character to honor Alonso, Cuba's most important ballet dancer and one of the greatest legends of dance in the world.

'Prosperous is a magician that creates everything in that place surrounded by sea, like a small island full of music and dance. I rapidly pictured Alicia, who has created a sort of magic around the BNC and its dancers,' Marston told The Havana Reporter.

Different activities will be held in parallel to the festival such as exhibitions, theoretical conferences, book launch, and film and video seasons.

The Havana festival, which is one of the oldest of its kind in the world, will offer a special choice this time: a course on ballet technique for professionals, teachers and advanced-level students.

The long list of ballet stars who have participated in the Cuban festival includes Russian Maya Plisetskaya, French Sylvie Guillem, Italian Carla Fracci and Alexandra Ferri, Spanish Tamara Rojo and Jose Carlos Martinez, Argentinean Julio Bocca, Maximiliano Guerra and Paloma Herrera and U.S. Cynthia Harvey.

The BNC organizers always insist on turning the festival into a party of choreographic art that claims a phrase by outstanding Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier as its own: 'The spirit of dance is inseparable from the human condition.'

The Cuban Ballet Company has covered the country and Latin America with glory ever since it was founded.

The Cuban Culture Ministry this year issued a decree declaring the company Cultural Heritage of the Nation.

  • Published in Culture

Cuba and Serbia Strengthen Cultural Relations

Serbia and Cuba today expressed their mutual will to strengthen cultural relations at a meeting between officials from that sector in this capital.

Ivana Dedic, an advisor to the Ministry of Culture and Information of Serbia, received the Cuban expert from the Ministry of Culture, Geober Guibert, who is visiting this capital.

The meeting, which was described as fruitful by both parties, was also attended by Cuban Ambassador to Serbia Gustavo Trista del Todo and the head of International Relations at the Serbian ministry, Jagoda Stamenkovic.

The officials reviewed several actions under way in the field of culture, particularly those linked to ballet and cinema. In that framework, they noted the exhibition of Cuban films in Belgrade in October.

They highlighted the two countries' will to promote new initiatives, in addition to acknowledging the convenience of signing a bilateral collaboration agreement to implement cultural projects.

The two officials also underlined the importance of celebrating the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations soon.

  • Published in Cuba

Facebook deletes more ‘inauthentic’ accounts – but stops short of blaming Russia

Facebook has identified and shut down more than two dozen accounts that it claimed were created to exacerbate political tensions in the United States, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Facebook said the “inauthentic” accounts displayed activity similar to that of accounts the social media giant had earlier linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — a Russian entity which western media have often linked to Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Facebook, however, admitted in a blog post that it was in the “very early stages” of its investigation and didn’t have “all the facts” about the newly discovered accounts.

Evidence Facebook has is not strong enough to publicly attribute the pages to the IRA, and “it’s possible that a separate actor could be copying their techniques,” the company’s chief security officer Alex Stamos said.

The company said that whoever set up the accounts “went to much greater lengths” to obscure their identities than the IRA had in the past, but also said it found links between some of the new accounts and previous Russia-linked accounts it had disabled last year.

Democrats were quick to jump on the Russia-blaming bandwagon, however, with Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) releasing a statement blaming Moscow for creating the Facebook accounts and suggesting this was “further evidence” that the Kremlin was exploiting platforms like Facebook to “sow division and spread disinformation” in the US. Warner also said he hoped Facebook would continue working to identify “Russian troll activity” on the website.

The news from Facebook comes just days after US President Donald Trump suggested that Russia might interfere in the upcoming midterm elections, but that they would be “pushing very hard for the Democrats” because “no President has been tougher on Russia” than him.

Facebook said it decided to share the information, despite not having all the facts, because there was a “connection” between the pages in question and a number of protests that were planned for Washington, DC next week.

A total of 32 accounts on Facebook and Instagram were suspended. In its blog post, Facebook warned that it faces “determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up” and who are “constantly changing tactics”.

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen commended Facebook for its efforts and complimented it for taking the alleged election interference seriously.

  • Published in World

Chile Investigating 158 in Catholic Church Over Sex Abuse

Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops amid accusations of abuse and related cover-ups.

Chile is now investigating 158 members of the country's embattled Catholic Church — both clergymen and lay people — for perpetrating or concealing the sexual abuse of children and adults, prosecutors said on Monday.

The cases relate to incidents dating back as far as 1960 and involving 266 victims, including 178 children and adolescents, according to public prosecutor Luis Torres.

The prosecutor's statement offered the first general view of the extent and scope of the abuse scandal faced by Chile's Catholic Church — and how many people are implicated.

"The vast majority of reported incidents relate to sexual crimes committed by priests or people linked to educational establishments," Torres told reporters.

The entire strata of the Catholic Church — from bishops to monks — were involved in the crimes, as well as "lay people exercising some function in the ecclesiastical sphere," he noted.

There are 36 ongoing investigations, while 23 previous ones resulted in convictions and one other in an acquittal.

"There's no doubt that what the public prosecutor is doing is very positive and is starting to open the door to situations that previously were treated as an open secret," Juan Carlos Claret, a member of a campaign group that opposed the presence of tainted bishop Juan Barros in his area, told AFP.

Barros is accused of covering for a pedophile priest and Francis was forced to apologize earlier this year for having hugged and defended the bishop on a visit to Chile in January.

Francis had named Barros to head the Osorno diocese, where Claret lives, in 2015 despite accusations by sex abuse victims that the prelate covered up the actions of disgraced pedophile priest Fernando Karadima in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to Claret, the Chilean Episcopal Conference already knew in 2007 about 120 priests involved in sexual abuse. He says that means there must be more people involved than the number revealed by prosecutors on Monday.

"Some information is still being held back," added Claret, a leading voice in denouncing the clerical abuse of children in the country that led Francis to overhaul Chile's Catholic Church.

Karadima has been suspended for life by the Vatican but never faced prosecution in Chile because the statute of limitations had elapsed by the time a case was opened in 2010.

Earlier that year, he had been found guilty of sexually abusing children by the Vatican, which sentenced him to a life of prayer and ordered him to pay compensation.

In May, the entire Chilean hierarchy of bishops tendered their resignations over the abuse scandal rocking the Church.

Since 2000, about 80 Catholic priests have been reported to authorities in Chile for alleged sexual abuse.

Ten days ago, prominent priest Oscar Munoz was arrested over allegations of sexual abuse and rape of at least seven children.

Francis has repeatedly apologized to parishioners over the scandal, admitting the Church failed "to listen and react" to allegations spanning decades, but vowed to "restore justice."

  • Published in World
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