Cuba kicks off int'l ballet festival


1st Nov, 2016 | Tourism Mail Crew


HAVANA: The 25th International Ballet Festival of Havana was kicked off on Friday night, drawing companies from 16 countries, including the United States.

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This year's festival was named in honor of Cuban prima ballerina assoluta and choreographer Alicia Alonso, one of the leading figures in the world of ballet and founder of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC).

Alonso, 94, was guest of honor at the inauguration ceremony of the biennial event, which she has promoted for half a century.

Teresa Amarelle, general secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women and member of the Communist Party of Cuba's politburo, addressed the audience at the inauguration gala, and highlighted Alonso's dedication to the BNC.

"We dedicate the biggest applause to Alicia for being a symbol of Cuban identity and an expression of the national and universal art of dance art," said Amarelle.The festival opened with the world premiere of "Oscurio" by Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa at the Grand Theatre of Havana, starring Cuban dancers Viengsay Valdes and Ariel Martinez.

Visiting companies from 16 countries are set to perform from Oct. 28 to Nov. 6, including the prestigious U.S. Martha Graham Dance Company and Canada's Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal.

Also performing are soloists or duets representing U.S. companies such as the Ballet Hispanico of New York, the Washington Ballet and the New York City Ballet.The British Northern Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet of Holland and the National Ballet of Uruguay are also on the performing list.

The special guests at the festival include former Russian dancer Azari Plisetski, choreographer, teacher and brother of the late Russian prima ballerina assoluta Maya Plisetskaya, who had strong ties to the BNC, and the artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Aurelie Dupont, a former star dancer of that prestigious group.

One of the world's oldest festivals of its kind, the festival was founded in 1960, immediately following the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Xinhua