24th HAVANA INTERNATIONAL BALLET FESTIVAL
A showcase of the world’s best
24th Havana International Ballet Festival, scheduled
October 28-November 7, will bring together companies
and star dancers from some 20 countries, and pay
tribute to William Shakespeare, on the 450th
anniversary of his birth.
most recent details about the gala event were
announced during a press conference, which, for the
first time, was not led by its president, prima
ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso.
Mauricio Abreu, National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) press
officer, explained that Alicia Alonso, at 93 years
of age, could not participate due to a cold, and
that her doctors had recommended rest, to prepare
for the intense days ahead during the Festival.
the extensive details shared was the important
announcement that the six U.S. companies invited
will attend: Ballet Hispánico de Nueva York; Pontus
Lidberg Dance; American Ballet Theatre (ABT; as well
as the New York City, Washington and Cincinnati
Heriberto Cabezas, head of the BNC public relations
department, in response to a question, indicated
that relations between the BNC - founded and
directed by Alicia – and the world of dance in the
United States, are strong and longstanding,
emphasizing, “If there has not been more of a
presence, it is because licenses were not granted.”
recalled that Alicia Alonso was an American Ballet
Theatre star, and that the majority of the 40
dancers who founded the BNC were from the United
States. Only 16 were Cuban.
invited were dancers and companies from 19 other
countries: the Swiss company Linga; Ballet Estable
del Teatro Colón, Argentina; Winter Guests,
Norway; Flanders Royal Ballet, Belgium; Hong Kong
Ballet; Nice Opera Ballet, France; Ballet Nacional
de Uruguay, Sodre; Danish Royal Ballet; National
Ballet of China; Joburg Ballet, South Africa; Ballet
de Santiago de Chile; Naples San Carlo Theater
Ballet, Italy; Balleteatro de Puerto Rico; Compañía
Nacional de Bailado, Portugal; Northern Ballet,
Britain; Hamburg Ballet, Germany; and National
Ballet of Norway.
Planners of the 24th Festival are proud to have as
the event’s motto, Por Shakespeare, la danza,
(For Shakespeare, dance), given that the playwright
provided inspiration to all branches of artistic
expression. Several ballets based on Shakespeare’s
works will be staged.
Cabrera, BNC historian, commented during the press
conference that Cuban companies have performed
Shakespearean works since the 19th century, and that
in the early 1900’s, Anna Pavlova premiered her
version of Romeo and Juliet in Havana.
reported that the BNC has in its repertory 15 works
based on Shakespeare’s plays, choreographed by the
company’s own artists, as well as Serge Lifar, John
Cranko and Brian Mcdonald.
to its roots, the Festival is dedicated to the bard
on the 450th anniversary of his birth, and will open
with Shakespeare y sus máscaras,
choreographed by Alicia Alonso, and feature
re-stagings of scenes from Hamlet by Iván
Tenorio, and Prologue to a tragedy, by Brian
companies gladly accepted the proposed theme and
will stage related works, including As You Like
It and Othello, created by the great U.S.
dancer and choreographer John Neumeier for the
Hamburg Ballet, performed by Carolina Agüero, a
company prima ballerina and Javier Torres, first
dancer for the BNC and Northern Ballet.
be staged are The Tempest (pas de deux) by
Mauricio Wainrot, performed by Maria Ricetto and
Ciro Tamayo, from the Ballet Sodre;
choreographed by José Limón, for the Nice Opera
Ballet; Romeo and Juliet, by Nicolas
Beriosoff, for the Joburg Ballet, and
The Taming of the Shrew (pas de deux) by John
Cranko, performed by Natalia Berrios and Juan Manuel
Ghiso, of the Ballet de Santiago de Chile.
renowned stars will perform throughout the 11-day
Festival, including Argentine Paloma Herrera, chosen
as one of the best 10 ballerinas of the century by
Dance Magazine, and for whom choreographers
like Jiří Kylián and Nacho Duato have created
has participated in Havana Festivals since 1996, and
in 2012 returned with José Manuel Carreño’s group
along with ballet stars from the United States.
Paloma and Carreño will dance the unforgettable
year Paloma Herrera, who announced that she would be
retiring from the ATB this next season, will perform
Rubies (Joyas pas de deux) and the
pas de deux - both by George
Balanchine - accompanied by Gonzalo Garcia from the
New York City Ballet; and Verano porteño (pas
de deux from Cuatro Estaciones de Buenos Aires),
choreographed by Mauricio Wainrot, with Juan Pablo
Ledo, the Teatro Colón Ballet’s first dancer.
Reyes (Cuba-U.S.), ABT prima ballerina, also
planning to retire next year, will dance Great
Galloping Gottschalk (pas de deux) by Lynn
Taylor-Corbett, and Coppelia, with Spanish
dancer Carlos López.
the stellar performers are the New York City
Ballet’s principal dancer, Joaquin de Luz,
considered one of the world’s most brilliant, and
Brooklyn Mack, a leading figure in the Washington
Ballet, described in Dance Magazine as among
the 25 most admired dancers in the world.
the Festival, Mack will share the stage with BNC
prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés, considered one of
Cuba’s best. They will perform scenes from La
magia de la danza and Diana y Acteón.
Viengsay will additionally dance in one of the
performances of Swan Lake with Ukrainian Ivan
Putrov, who has been awarded numerous international
prizes, including the Ballet Serge Lifar
competition’s gold medal.
scheduled is an overdue tribute to Fernando Alonso
(Havana 1914-2013), maestro de maestros, one
of the founders of the Cuban school of ballet and
the BNC, along with Alicia and Alberto Alonso.
events entitled Fernando Alonso In Memoriam,
will take place appropriately in the National School
of Ballet on Havana’s emblematic Prado, and will
feature master classes and panel discussions with
important figures in world dance, such as Julio
Bocca, José Manuel Carreño, Orlando Salgado and
Fernando Alonso, one of the icons of Cuban ballet,
directed the BNC through 1975, and the
Ballet de Camagüey
until 1992, when he went on to
become director of the Compañía Nacional de Danza de
México. Honored with the Cuban National Prize for
Dance in 2000, he was awarded the Benois Dance Prize
in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.
Haskel – for years the dean of ballet critics – once
described Cuba’s representatives in the Varna
contest as “the Cuban miracle,” since then the Cuban
school of ballet has been recognized as formidable
on an international level.
BNC, in addition to its contribution to dance
culture internationally, has presented 23 editions
of the Havana Festival, over a 54-year period, with
the participation of 73 companies from 61 countries,
and more than a thousand invitees. The Festival has
become a highly respected event, during which 241
world premieres have been presented.
but a sketch of what is to come - just around the
corner - during the 24th Havana Ballet Festival,
which is sure to be as varied, classic, modern and
contemporary as ever.