Cuban Company Acosta Dance Turns Summer into Art

The company Acosta Dance opens today at the Havana''s Grand Theater Alicia Alonso its Summer season, featuring works by choreographers from the United Kingdom, Spain and Cuba.

The hall Garcia Lorca will host the ensemble founded and directed by the prestigious dancer Carlos Acosta, whose biography inspired a film about to premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain.

According to a press release from the company, this program includes the works End of Time by the English choreographer Ben Stevenson and Impronta by the Spanish artist Maria Rovira.

By decision of Acosta Dance, the piece De punta a cabo (From Tip to Out), original version by Alexis Fernandez (Maca) will be reissued but, on this occasion, it will feature video images made by Cuban artist X Alfonso.

The audience attending these functions will be able to enjoy the world premiere of Satori, choreography by the young dancer Raul Reinoso, who was inspired by notions of Zen Buddhism to create a show about the search for spiritual enlightenment.

Satori has an original score composed by the Cuban musician Jose Gavilondo, costumes and decorations by the Curaçao designer Angelo Alberto and lights by the Italian artist Fabiana Piccioli.

Acosta Dance aims to offer integrative shows from the contemporary and the neoclassical, without discarding other expressions, times and styles of dance art.

The company intends to elaborate proposals in full accordance with the most current notions developed in the world, not only in terms of the body movement but also in terms of everything related to the scene.

The ensemble is defined as a space for renewal, research and experimentation for creators from all over the world, choreographers, musicians, designers, plastic and audiovisual artists.

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Successful Performance of Litz Alfonso Dance Cuba Ballet in Mexico

The National Auditorium in this capital was full of dance, music, luxury voices and good scenery, with the show ÂíCuba Vibra!, by the Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba ballet.

It was a rainy night but it was worth getting wet to see the professionalism of the Cuban company, which has taken the island's culture to different countries.

The program started with the piece 'De tierra y Aire', to later make a tour of the Cuban history and culture, but also with a lot of universality.

The Spanish dance was represented with flamenco, but all eyes was put on the Cuban dance, with Afro in particular, and a generous audience with such good art was excited.

The colophon was the Lizt Alfonso choreography entitled 'Se armo la rumba', where the dance company, star dancers, a group of musicians and important singers, among them pianist Pedro Sureda for Cuban chords, and guitarist Carlos Ernesto Varona for Iberian notes, participated.

Buleria, seguidilla, cha-cha-cha, mambo, rumba, conga, bolero, feeling, were rhythms and dance steps that make the heart vibrate in the National Auditorium, located at the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.

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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.

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Cuba National Ballet Takes Up Another Literary Classic: Cinderella

The National Ballet of Cuba, under the direction of the legendary artist Alicia Alonso, announced today that it will perform in this capital one of the most famous stories by Frenchman Charles Perrault: Cinderella.

The season will take place at the Great Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso, on July 19th, 20th, 21st  and 22nd, choreographed by Cuban Pedro Consuegra.

The creator was inspired by the story of Perrault of the same name to compose a dance version of Cinderella in two acts and four scenes, with music by Johann Strauss (son) and designs by Armin Heinemann.

The work was premiered in 1996 in this capital with an excellent reception from the public and critics, and as the main course of the next season the company announces the debuts in the main roles of young dancers, who will share the scene with the experienced ones.

Grettel Morejón, Rafael Quenedit and Bárbara Fabelo make up the cast of the first show; Ginett Moncho, Adrián Sánchez and Chavela Riera will assume the second; while Chanell Cabrera and Yankiel Vázquez will star in the third; and Viengsay Valdés, Dani Hernández and Claudia García will close the sets.

Next to Greta, Gustavo and the Fairy Rava appears Leontine, the stepmother, whose roll will be alternated between Ernesto Díaz and Yansiel Pujada.

In the opinion of the North American journalist Lewis Segal, of Los Angeles Time, The Cinderella of the National Ballet of Cuba becomes a version in which the character and the spirit remain subordinated to the classic narration.

Meanwhile, the Spanish critic Julio Bravo, of the newspaper ABC, highlighted the funny epilogue introduced by Consuegra in the style of the great classical ballets and a risky, brilliant and elaborate final pas de deux.

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Cuban Dancers Gain Panamian Admiration

Grosso Panama, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) Twists, jumps, balance and a high level of interpretation resulted in the triumphs of Cubans Viengsay Valdes and Osiel Gouneo, who put the Panamanians on their feet in a gala in which other stars shone.

The pas de deux Don Quixote, one of the emblematic pieces of classical dance, was the perfect one for the first ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) to show her virtuosity and refined art, virtues that the public was able to reward with ovations.

However, the artistic and technical preciosity of Kitry and Basilio, main characters of Don Quixote was not the only thing that impacted those present in the capital Anayansi theater, but also the drama of Spartacus, whose Russian version, the best known worldwide, was interpreted here for the first time by Valdes.

The others who asserted the technical and artistic quality of the Cuban ballet school were the young representatives of the BNC Katherine Ochoa and Narciso Medina, who with their exquisite performance and synchronization of movements in the pas de deux Emerald and Zero achieved sympathy and applause from the public.

And if we talk about stars, it is worth highlighting the impeccable presentation of Misa Kuranaga and Patrick Palkens, main figures of the Boston Ballet who put many standing up after the performance of the pas de deux Black Swan, a work full of love.

The representatives of the National Ballet of Portugal Filipa de Castro and Carlos Pinillos deserved to be mention as well in this international gala, for they showed the passion that unites them in real life in Cantata, a beautiful interpretation in the midst of a tragic environment.

Other representative pieces of classical ballet were present in this function through the young Panamanians Eileen Frazer, Illya Kun, Ana Carolina Olarte and Andrea Diaz, who did not let themselves be overshadowed by the stars and demonstrated an interpretative and technical level that their audience rewarded with applause.

Meanwhile, Dusty Button, choreographer and main dancer of the Boston Ballet, showed enough talent to unfold and move from contemporary dance with Audible, her first solo performance, and Gamzatti Variation from La Bayadere, a classic piece.

Concluding a night full of luminaries, 'The Dance of the Hours' was performed to merge the efforts of all in one demonstrating the beauty of the dance as an expression of fantastic art, going beyond borders.

Grosso Panama, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) Twists, jumps, balance and a high level of interpretation resulted in the triumphs of Cubans Viengsay Valdes and Osiel Gouneo, who put the Panamanians on their feet in a gala in which other stars shone.
The pas de deux Don Quixote, one of the emblematic pieces of classical dance, was the perfect one for the first ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) to show her virtuosity and refined art, virtues that the public was able to reward with ovations.

However, the artistic and technical preciosity of Kitry and Basilio, main characters of Don Quixote was not the only thing that impacted those present in the capital Anayansi theater, but also the drama of Spartacus, whose Russian version, the best known worldwide, was interpreted here for the first time by Valdes.

The others who asserted the technical and artistic quality of the Cuban ballet school were the young representatives of the BNC Katherine Ochoa and Narciso Medina, who with their exquisite performance and synchronization of movements in the pas de deux Emerald and Zero achieved sympathy and applause from the public.

And if we talk about stars, it is worth highlighting the impeccable presentation of Misa Kuranaga and Patrick Palkens, main figures of the Boston Ballet who put many standing up after the performance of the pas de deux Black Swan, a work full of love.

The representatives of the National Ballet of Portugal Filipa de Castro and Carlos Pinillos deserved to be mention as well in this international gala, for they showed the passion that unites them in real life in Cantata, a beautiful interpretation in the midst of a tragic environment.

Other representative pieces of classical ballet were present in this function through the young Panamanians Eileen Frazer, Illya Kun, Ana Carolina Olarte and Andrea Diaz, who did not let themselves be overshadowed by the stars and demonstrated an interpretative and technical level that their audience rewarded with applause.

Meanwhile, Dusty Button, choreographer and main dancer of the Boston Ballet, showed enough talent to unfold and move from contemporary dance with Audible, her first solo performance, and Gamzatti Variation from La Bayadere, a classic piece.

Concluding a night full of luminaries, 'The Dance of the Hours' was performed to merge the efforts of all in one demonstrating the beauty of the dance as an expression of fantastic art, going beyond borders.

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U.S. Policy Prevents National Ballet of Cuba's Performance

Havana, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) The National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) today clarified through a statement the facts about its frustrated performance in the United States with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Cuban company notified that the function conceived for next August with the symphony orchestra failed to consolidate due to the complex and expensive procedures to obtain the visas that could not be assumed by the Philharmonic.

'This situation was widely evaluated by both parties since last April of this year,' the text adds.

The clarification by the BNC is due to information circulated in several U.S. media about the refusal of visas to the group by the U.S. Department of State to act in that country.

The complex situation is the result of the visa policy established by U.S. President Donald Trump, which states that Cubans interested in traveling to the United States must process visas in a third country.

Despite these limitations, the prestigious group led by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso has made several tours of American cities with great acceptance by the public and specialized critics.

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CRITICAL ZONE: From Cuba to the World and Vice Versa

Cuban artists star a resounding festival in Washington as a sign of the strength of the cultural exchange with other countries of the world.

Highly-aesthetic proposals and resounding expressions of our art are usually part of the cultural exchange between our country and other nations. Obviously, there is a lot of potential here. There is a very rich, active cultural maze. There are top artists known worldwide representing different cultural expressions.

There is a strong artistic teaching system all around the country that ensures continuity and renovation. The perfect example is the Cuban delegation participating in the Cuba’s Art Festival at the Kennedy Center, in Washington. Almost all artists there have been trained in our art schools. Their quality is beyond discussion.

However, not every artistic expression made in Cuba performing abroad has the same quality standards. There are some poor proposals as well. In several cases, they lean more on the business standard than art itself. It is already known that every time market is the key, you cannot guarantee hierarchies.

Nonetheless, there are some entrepreneurs that assess fairly the richness of Cuban culture. And thanks to such determination, along with the work of Cuban art institutions, major stages of the world have boasted some of the greatest artists living in Cuba.

Artists are excellent ambassadors. Bridges built on culture are solid and create bonds among people. Such bridges, of course, work in both directions.

Thanks to the prestige earned by the Cuban culture, famous artists and bands have visited in Cuba. You can check the catalogue of the Havana Biennial, writers attending International Book Fairs, companies attending our festivals, and so on. We are out of several world art circuits due to economical issues. But Havana is a strong venue for art in Latin America.

We say Havana, but other provinces could be included. We are convinced much can be done to socialize art across the country.

The same occur with artists born in places far from the capital who can be included in the cultural delegations that travel abroad. It is a challenge for the institutions.

What is true is that culture and good art have been able to avoid political and economical pitfalls. The cultural bonds between Cuba and other nations are strong, rich, growing…They are symbol of an artistic movement which represents the pride of a country.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

Cuba’s prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso leads U.S. tour

This 2018, the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) is set for abundant celebrations. Firstly, its 70th anniversary. The BNC was founded in 1948 by Alicia Alonso and the brothers Fernando (1914-2013) and Alberto Alonso (1917-2007). This year also marks 75 years since Alicia debuted in Giselle with the American Ballet Theatre, and the bicentenary of the birth of maestro Marius Petipa (1818-1910), as well as the 30th anniversary of the premiere of the Cuban version of his Don Quixote.

It is in this splendid context that the company directed by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso is starting a new tour of the United States (May 15 through June 9), performing two monuments of world ballet representing resounding successes of its own: Giselle and Don Quixote.

A LIFE DEVOTED TO ART

As a significant historical reference, it should be noted that Alicia Alonso (Havana, 1920), one of the great legends of dance, is included among the founding members of the American Ballet Theatre. Her substitution of the famed Alicia Márkova in the leading role of Giselle on November 2, 1943, became legendary.

The illustrious ballerina retired from the stage in 1995, but as she has stated in several interviews, dance in all its senses, as a technique, as a teacher, as a choreographer, is her life.

Her devotion to this art can be appreciated in the extraordinary technique and stylistic care of the company she directs, especially in its lead dancers, including Anette Delgado, Viengsay Valdés and Sadaise Arencibia.

Portuguese Nobel Prize for Literature winner, José Saramago, noted that in order to continue to have the same meaning, proverbs must be adapted to the times, and this is something Alicia Alonso has cleverly done with the great ballet classics, without losing their stylistic essence. Thus she has “dusted off,” as she herself has described it, not only Giselle and Don Quixote, but also The Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide and The Nutcracker.

THE CUBAN VERSION OF DON QUIXOTE

Igor Youskevitch and Alicia Alonso, in the first act of Giselle. The pair made history at the American Ballet Theatre. Photo: Courtesy of the BNC

The first performances by the BNC in the United States (May 18, 19 and 20) were in Chicago, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, the headquarters of the Joffrey Ballet, where the company presented Alicia’s 1988 version of Don Quixote, with prima ballerinas Marta García and María Elena Llorente, based on the original piece by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorski.

As a ballet created from Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra’s (1547-1616) masterpiece, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, Alicia took great pains to maintain the folkloric references in the choreography and dramaturgy, demonstrating maximum respect for the character of Don Quixote, an icon of world literature.

GISELLE: ONE OF THE MOST MAJESTIC PIECES

And Giselle lived among us, wrote the great Cuban intellectual Alejo Carpentier, after watching Alicia dance in Paris. The BNC performed this obligatory piece for all leading ballet companies, on May 23 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, in Tampa.

Over time, Alicia not only enriched her personal performance of this piece, considered by critics as representing the peak of her career, but she did the same in her rigorous and beautiful version of the classic created in 1841 by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, with a libretto by Théophile Gautier, inspired by the Germanic folk tale by Heinrich Heine.

Alicia’s staging is distinguished by the excellent set, the character, strength and expression of the drama, seen in each character on stage, and her absolute respect for the romantic style. Alicia received the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris in 1966 for this version of Giselle and her own performance.

The Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World Festival, underway in Washington’s Kennedy Center, will close with these two great classics: Don Quixote and Giselle, running until June 3.

After visiting the U.S. capital, and to conclude the tour, the company will perform Giselle at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York, June 6 through 8.

As well as various seasons at its headquarters, the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana, and several international tours throughout this 2018, the BNC will see an immense celebration in October-November, to mark the 70th anniversary of its foundation, with the 26th Havana International Ballet Festival.

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