Wednesday, August 18, 2010

US ballet troupe to dance in Cuba for first time in 50 years

US ballet troupe to dance in Cuba for first time in 50 years

NEW YORK — American Ballet Theater, one of the leading US classical
dance companies, will perform in Havana, Cuba this year for the first
time in a half-century, the company said Wednesday.

The visit, part of Havana's International Ballet Festival on November 3
and 4, will mark the New York-based company's first visit to the island
since 1960, according to ABT executive director Rachel Moore, who said
her company eagerly anticipates the visit.

"We believe in the power of the arts to connect people and transform
lives," Moore said in a statement. She added that soloists and principal
dancers from her famed company will be featured at additional
performances in Havana on November 5 and 6.

"We really do believe this trip in November will be a bridge between two
artistic communities."

The announcement comes amid rumors that the US administration is
considering easing the decades-old trade embargo against its Cold
War-era nemesis.

Unconfirmed US media reports said this week that the Obama
administration will soon ease some restrictions on US travel to Cuba and
other sanctions following Havana's promise to free political prisoners.

The rumored changes reportedly will expand educational and cultural
visits and restore the broader "people-to-people" exchanges inaugurated
under the Bill Clinton administration, but curtailed by his White House
successor George W. Bush.

The visit also reciprocates a trip made earlier this year to the United
States by Alicia Alonso, Cuba's most famous ballerina and the head of
its national ballet company.

Alonso, 90, has been an ambassador of the 1959 Cuban revolution, which
set off decades of tensions with the United States including trade
sanctions which continue to this day.

Alonso was the honored guest at a June 3 tribute at New York's
Metropolitan Opera House for her life's achievements in ballet.

The Cuban prima ballerina and choreographer began her professional
career with the American Ballet Theater, where she danced the main role
in Giselle in a critically-acclaimed performance in 1943.

Although she is almost blind and now struggling to walk, Alonso still
actively directs the communist-ruled island's national ballet.

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