Verb Ballets arrives on Cuba to launch Cleveland Havana Ballet

Posted: 13-Mar-18 08:58

Ohio's acclaimed company will join Cuba's own ProDanza to perform a mixed repertoire, learn the subtleties of Cuban Ballet from their new colleagues, and deliver a brand new production to an audience at the Teatro Miramar, which has been written by Ivan Alonso, whose mother founded the renowned Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

Verb Ballets arrives on Cuba to launch Cleveland Havana Ballet

Members of Cleveland’s acclaimed Verb Ballets have left Ohio behind to head off for more tropical climes, touching down in Cuba to take part in a brand new project that will see them dance alongside the Caribbean island’s own ProDanza company.

“I still can’t believe it’s really happening.”

Verb dancer Kate Webb is quoted as saying in an article on cleveland.com.

“It means we’re a part of history, something bigger than ourselves.”

The joint troupe, known as Cleveland Havana Ballet, will perform a number of works while together, including a brand new ballet by Ivan Alonso, grandson of world renowned Ballet Nacional de Cuba founder, Alicia Alonso, which is entitled Yarini.

The story depicts the life and time of Alberto Yarini, who was a pimp during Cuba’s war of independence, but now regarded as something of a national hero, representative of the archetypal underdog.

The performance has been developed over a number of months, with Verb collaborating with Laura Alonso, the choreographer’s own mother who is a long-term friend and guest of Verbs Ballets. Funding was provided in part by the Cleveland Foundation.

In addition, a separate programme of mixed repertoire is being prepared for the Cleveland Havana Ballet, which will be brought to life for one evening in Havana’s Teatro Miramar, which has just been restored.

The trip will also see Verb Ballets dancers present the work they have been performing back in Ohio, allowing their Cuban counterparts to learn from them. Meanwhile, the US talent will be able to get an insight into the subtleties of Cuban ballet, which is regarded as an individual form of dance in its own right.

There’s more to the story than dance alone, too. Many of those visiting Cuba from Cleveland are doing so for the first time, and as such this presents a unique opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and culture of the island, which had been off-limits for American citizens throughout the latter half of the 20th Century.

Thanks to difficulties obtaining visas to travel to the US, Yarini may never be performed on mainland American soil – in Cleveland or anywhere else – as half those involved in the production, the ProDanza dancers, would not be allowed entry to the States. However, anyone not lucky enough to be in attendance in Havana will be able to keep track on the trip via a weblog, which Webb is intending on maintaining for the duration of Verb’s time on the island, with local and national press also expected to write reviews, which can then be circulated across other territories.

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