Hot in Cuba - photography month, contemporary music festival, German techno and Camaguey's Ballet

November in Cuba this month is decidedly cooler than the last, bringing about not just lower temperatures but relaxing and inspiring recreational options, especially in the world of music and fine arts. On one hand things get kickstarted by two special ballet productions in Cienfuegos, a little German techno in the capital and contemporary sounds in all their ample variety and splendour. On the other we have the year’s official photography month, with numerous exhibitions popping up everywhere.

Hot in Cuba - photography month, contemporary music festival, German techno and Camaguey's Ballet

November is for many a transitional month, the one into which most of us slowly start entering into a subtle hibernation mode (mood-wise at least) after donning heavier coats, rearranging our wardrobes and taking things somewhat slower. The same goes for Cubans on a lesser scale (though the mild drop in temperatures can hardly be described as “winter” and there’s no need for heavy coats, even when some locals do indeed bring out their scarves and long-sleeves – well, they have to dust them off some time!) and they enter a somewhat more restive period where the hot dancing and salsa concerts take a step back in favour of the fine arts, like photography, contemporary music and dancing.

Moreover, this month is official photography month at Havana’s Fototeca de Cuba, with several exhibitions being hosted over the coming weeks not just there but in various locations throughout the capital and beyond. Beyond that there’s a little Cuban jazz by Grammy-nominated Roberto Fonseca and several art works being presented at numerous galleries throughout Cuba. As the month keeps progressing (and with Cubans’ penchant to announce thing last minute or with very little advance notice) we’ll keep adding events on this Cuban cultural calendar. For now, keep scrolling down to find out what’s in store so far for this November 2017.

Top Picks

Ballet Contemporaneo de Camaguey in Cienfuegos (4th and 5th November)

The first weekend in November looks promising indeed for a lucky Cienfuegos audience who will get to enjoy a one-off performance by the Ballet Contemporaneo de Camaguey along two consecutive days. The production is entitled “15 en escena” (15 onstage) and will be performed at Cienfuegos’ famous Teatro Terry, a dazzling colonial beauty in its own right. It’s on at 9 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Diva Techno in Havana (7th November)

Calling on all techno music fans and lovers in Havana this week! Coming all the way from Berlin, Ellen Allien lands in Havana to introduce Cubans to her highly contagious version of techno music. This accomplished German DJ is one of the world’s most famous and considered the absolute queen of this music genre in her country. She’ll share the stage with Cuban DJs like Dvazz Brothers, DJoy de Cuba and Daniela Vazquez for one night only at La Chorrera. The show is on at 9 p.m. and entry is free! So what are you waiting for?

New World in concert (9th November)

Alternative music enters the somewhat elusive Cuban scene this coming Thursday 9th November at the Corner Cafe in Havana’s Vedado district. A project led by Cuban rapper Yosvel Alvarez Sosa (known for having shared the stage several times with FAC founder and fusion music X Alfonso) this group blends a variety of sounds and influences that range from rock and funk to rap, reggae and electronic music to better reflect Cuba’s mixed musical heritage and as a symbol of a new generation. Lyrics describe the day-to-day realities and hopes of the Cuban people, taking inspiration from the rich world of art. Get there to enjoy their unique sound fusion at 10 p.m. Cover entry price is just 1 CUC (less than a pound!)

Spanish and Flamenco dancing at the Gran Teatro (1st to 12th November)

The first edition of the “Festival Internacional de Danzas Espanola y Flamenca” (International Festival of Spanish and Flamenco Dances) kicked off in Havana at the start of the month and continues staging daily performances at the Garcia Lorca hall of the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso until 12th November. Dedicated to the memory of diseased Spanish choreographer and dancer, Antonio Gades and his very much alive frequent onstage partner, flamenco dancer, actress and choreographer, Cristina Hoyos, this Iberian-flavoured festival will have plenty to wow audiences with.

The full programme features invited performing guests from all latitudes, such as La Academia dance company from Chile, violinist Shannon Cooper from the United States and the Spanish duo made up of dancer Ana Ruiz and playwright Francisco Ortuno. Participating Cuban counterparts include the prestigious Litz Alfonso Dance Cuba company, Alma Flamenca and Ecos. The festival’s official host is the Ballet Espanol de Cuba, who will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. Head to the Gran Teatro’s ticket office to find out details about each daily performance.

Danza Contemporanea debuts “Equilux” in Havana (10th to 12th November)

As part of a joint project with the British Council, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, under the direction of British choreographer, Fleur Darkin, will be putting on a very special show at the Teatro Mella over the course of three consecutive days. The global screening of “Equilux” a production on which Darkin has been working since April with the Danza Contemporanea team in Havana, will see the coming into life of a supported by the Creative Islands initiative by the British Council in Havana, which turns 20 years old in 2017.

The director of the Scottish Dance Theatre has fallen in love with Cuban dancers’ amazing versatility to adapt to different dance codes and seamlessly blend them as one to create truly special pieces that highlight the strength of each artist. If in Havana the second weekend of November make it to the Teatro Mella on either of these dates to see the result of seven months of hard work and the fusion of British instruction with Cuban elocution. 

Havana’s Contemporary Music Festival (11th to 19th November)

The 30th edition of the Festival de Musica Contemporanea will take Havana by storm at the end of the second week of November, comprising nine days of several screenings with global melodies from all corners of the world, performed by talented artists spanning all genres and age groups. With over 20 participating countries (from Germany to Mexico, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Austria and the United States, to name a few), this mega event will dedicate ample space to symphonic music, chamber music, choral music, vocal music and electroacoustic sounds. Participating foreign guests will also offer conferences, auditions, master classes and seminars about their countries’ contemporary music scene.

Just to give you an idea of invited guests, I’ll proceed to include a little name-dropping with the likes of U.S. flutist Linda Chatterton, pianist Mac McCLure , guitarist Maja Radovanlija and composer Marcus Norris as well as Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione, the Italian-American Passepartout duo and Bolivian electic guitarist Sergio Sorrentino. The Tevana trio (made up of German pianist Ingvo Clauder, percussionist Claudio Spieler and Mexican “bailaora” dancer Karen Lugo) performing at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano on 16th November. Other hosting scenarios include Casa del ALBA Cultural, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Basilica Menor of the San Francisco de Asis Convent, the Teatro Nacional, the UNEAC’s Ruben Martinez Villena Hall and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, among others. If you want to check out the full programme of events, my best piece of advice is to head to as many of these venues as you can so that you can cherry pick which performances to attend if interested.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba debuts a very special trio (23rd and 26th November)

Paying tribute to the diseased leader of the Cuban Revolution one year after his departure, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba is putting on a special series of performances at Havana´s Gran Teatro “Alicia Alonso” to commemorate the first anniversary of Fidel Castro´s death. To mark the occasion one special production will see the light for the first time with the worldwide debut of “Anyali” a new production by Ely Regina Hernandez, alongside Alicia Alonso´s adaptation of “La fill mal gardee” (performed for the first time 65 years ago). This season, Cuba´s most international ballet company is also celebrating the 140th anniversary of “La Bayadera”, yet another production they´ll be performing over the last weekend in November. With this phenomenal trio of ballet performances, there´s no time to waste in getting tickets, available from the theatre´s ticket office with performances scheduled for 8:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Cats – the famous West End musical´s Cuban spin (18th, 19th, 25th, 26th November)

Opening a special new theatre season for an eager Cuban audience, this adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber´s most famous musical arrives to Old Havana´s Anfieatro del Centro Historico de La Habana, under the direction of Alfonso Menendez. Including all 14 original acts, this open-air show will seduce and entertaining audiences of all ages. The idea is to dust off the old original classic and give it a new shine with a renovated cast (made up of aficionados in the vast majority of cases) and a very different stage. The show is on at 9 p.m. on two consecutive nights and tickets to the performance will only be sold on show days (two hours before curtain call and up to 20 minutes after curtain close). Certainly, a very unique way to enjoy one of the West End´s greatest classics, with a pinch of Cuban flavour.

Photography Month in Havana (1st November to 1st December)

Hosted by the Fototeca de Cuba art gallery in Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja, “Noviembre Fotografico” (Photographic November) brings an ample selection of photography works to the table during a month-long of special exhibits at various Havana venues, including a variety of art galleries but also non-art related spaces like the Museo del Ron (Rum Museum) which is showing a special joint exhibition by Cuban photographers Alejandro Alfonso and Guillermo Corral, under the name “Contemplacion(es)” – translating as Contemplation(s).

A series of historical photographs depicting Cuba in times of war against the Spanish colony and titled “El Teatro de la Guerra 1985 – 1898” (The Theatre of War) will be presented by Jose Gomez de la Carrera at the Fototeca De Cuba until the start of December. Watch this space for upcoming announcements of more photo exhibitions springing up this November throughout the city and possibly beyond.

Cuban Jazz by Roberto Fonseca (several dates throughout the month)

With the first concert coming on 5th November at the BulleBar 66 in Havana at 10 p.m., Roberto Fonseca, the award-winning Cuban jazzist has announced more concerts to follow in order to introduce fans to his latest album production “Yo” (Me). After a press release announcement in which he gave details of his upcoming participation in Portugal’s music festival “Musicas do Mondo”, Mr Fonseca spoke of his intention to play in other Havana venues this November such as the Teatro Mella, Teatro Nacional and Café Cantante. Watch this space for more details on dates and times.

Fine Arts

Remembering Rita Longa at Havana’s Gran Teatro (9th November until further notice)

Famous for stunning works of art like Tropicana’s iconic ballerina or the deers flanking the entrance to the city zoo on 26th Avenue (Zoologico de 26) there is one special lady that deserves commemoration this month. To celebrate the 105th anniversary of Cuba’s most remarkable female sculptor, Rita Longa, a special exhibition uniting some of her most famous pieces will be displayed at the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso”, in the “Alejo Carpentier” hall. Her art works, recognisable for her use of undulating lines taking inspiration from the Art Deco movement, has inspired a generation of Cuban artists, many of whom will also exhibit their pieces alongside Rita’s in a collective show of contemporary Cuban sculpture. It hasn’t been specified for how long the exhibit will remain on display but it’s safe to say you’ll most likely be able to catch it until the end of November, at the very least.

“La Mirada Inedita” debuts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana (27th October until further notice)

The National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) in Havana is paying homage to graphic design and sketch drawing from the 1920s and 1930s in a selection of art pieces belonging the island’s Vanguardia movement. Over 50 different art pieces on paper and cardboard as well as 20 issue covers from the former “Social” magazine will be on show, exhibiting the talent of Cuba’s avant-garde movement from 1920 and 1932. Participating artists’ names include international icons like Amelia Pelaez, Carlos Enriquez and Antonio Gattorno, as well as Marcelo Pogolotti, Eduardo Abela, Aristides Fernandez, Jose Manuel Acosta and Lily del Barrio, among others.


Susana Corona

Susana Corona

The islands' go-between

Having lived most of my life between Cuba and the UK and being half-raised in both island nations, I...

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