Last Saturday night I was blessed to be able to witness dancers from Cuba in two very different settings. As I drove home late that night, I reflected on what I had seen, who I had danced with, and the feeling that both events had evoked.
The first event of the night was the National Ballet of Cuba. My daughter and I enjoy watching ballets so I thought this would be a great outing for us. We met up with a group of friends to see them troupe perform Don Quixote. Below you can see a promo of the ballet from 2008. I have seen quite a few ballets and I can say that these dancers were the best I have ever seen. The leaps and jumps were strong, the technique flawless, and they were able to really entertain when, at times, ballets can be slow and sleepy. I would have been interested in knowing how many Cubans were in the audience to witness this beautiful performance - at least one that I know of - my friend Ana, who was moved to tears to see a group that she had been waiting to see her whole life.
After the ballet, I had been invited to the Dance Place for an after party for Cutumba. The group had been giving performances and workshops throughout the weekend - information I received after purchasing my ballet tickets. As we drove to the dance studio, you could see the party was in full swing. People were outside, dancing, DJ Reyna was killing with the music.
The atmosphere was, of course, very different than the Kennedy Center which demands a respectful, quiet, and composed attitude. Here, it was party time! The timba was loud, the dancing was hot, and people were having a great time enjoying Cuban dance. Those who attended used words like "best event of the year" and it was just a simple, outdoor, block party that made a huge impact on many people.
This is another video from my friend, Yadiel Suarez, who is currently teaching in Falls Church, Virginia (please note this is on Facebook & I'm not sure what the permissions are). Thank you, Yadiel, for allowing me to use your video!
I have many thoughts on the attendance at both events. To talk about them could land me in hot water and I don't think I'm willing to go there for this site. Let's just say that the dancers from each group were quite different and represented two sides of Cuba (that may be narrow as all Latin countries are their own melting pot of many cultures mixed together through slavery, immigration, indigenous cultures, and those who invaded those cultures).
It is nights like that where I feel so happy to be able to appreciate and participate in a wide variety of music and dance. I think to shut ourselves off from any style of dance just because it is "too ethnic" or "too anglo" or "too contemporary" is to shut ourselves off from a huge world.