Grand Circle Foundation Sponsors the Grand Finale of the World-Renowned Contemporary Dance Company's First-Ever Visit to the U.S.
On Thursday, May 26, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, Cuba's leading modern dance company, performed the grand finale of its first-ever U.S. tour at the Strand Theatre in Boston. Grand Circle Foundation was among the sponsors of the event.
Founded in 1959, this internationally acclaimed dance company is renowned for its eclectic mix of contemporary, Afro-Caribbean, and Spanish styles. Until now, however, American audiences have been denied the opportunity to witness firsthand this unique and dynamic dance experience. Just a year after the company was founded, the U.S. imposed an embargo on Cuba that ended intercultural exchange between the two countries for decades.
When President Obama eased travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba in January of this year, however, it became possible for religious, educational, and artistic groups to begin understanding each other's cultures through personal experience.
This groundbreaking tour marks an important step toward a return to intercultural exchange between our two countries. "Changing people's lives through cultural exchange is what Grand Circle and the Foundation are all about," says Maury Peterson, Vice President of Grand Circle Foundation. "So sponsoring this amazing event was a natural fit. Not only did it expose the people of Boston to Cuban dance, it also helped to break down one of the most serious threats to Cuban culture today—namely, isolation."
Michael Eizenberg, President of Educational Travel Alliance, concurs. "Cuba's culture is all about dance," he says, "but the idea of dance as something created for an audience—as opposed to celebrations or religious purposes—is something new in Cuba. I think it's important to support the idea of introducing Cuban dance as an art form to the rest of the world."
Presented by the Educational Travel Alliance, Mass Humanities, and Dance for World Community, the tour was launched on May 6, with a performance in Virginia Beach, Virginia, followed by stops in New York City and Philadelphia. On Thursday, May 26, the troupe danced the tour's historic grand finale at the Strand Theatre in Boston.
For this final performance, the company chose three pieces. Horizonte was choreographed by Cuban-born dancer/choreographer Pedro Ruiz as a channel for the emotions he felt upon returning to his homeland after 28 years away. Evoking the experience of nature and the sea, the piece is the first work ever created for the company by a Cuban-American choreographer—and a perfect metaphor for renewed exchange between the two lands.
Consisting of four movements, Demo-N/Crazy is a dynamic and demanding piece that requires highly skilled dancers as it delves deep into the heart of the human condition. The piece was choreographed by award-winning Spanish native Rafael Bonachela, who used non-stop motion as a release for unspoken feelings and ideas.
The mambo met the third millennium and the 21st century in the final piece on the program, Mambo 3XXI. Musicians from the Nacional Electrónica updated mambo rhythms of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, while choreographer George Enrique Céspedes Aguilera integrated street dances and floor techniques into a bravura work that is deeply rooted in Cuban folklore, yet offers a cross-cultural experience of dance traditions from around the world.
Grand Circle Foundation is proud to have been given the opportunity to sponsor Danza Contemporanea de Cuba in Boston as they bade farewell to the U.S.—for now.