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ballet bolshoi

 Russia's famed Bolshoi ballet performed in Cuba for the first time in three decades, joining Cuban dancers to fill the stage of the Karl Marx Theater with princesses, swans and flirty Spanish lasses.

Six members of the Russian trope, including Elena Andrienko, Ruslan Skvorsto, Ana Antonicheva and Dimitri Belogolovstsev, helped perform scenes from "Swan Lake," "Carmen" and "Giselle," as well as other favorites Saturday night.

They alternated with the Cuban National Ballet, directed by Alicia Alonso, the grande dame of Cuban dance, who is approaching her 90th birthday.

"It's a very beautiful night to share between great Cuban and Russian artists," Alonso said in an interview just before show time, as a crowd of about 5,000 was still settling into their seats in Havana's upscale Miramar district.

The performance was part of festivities surrounding Havana's annual international book fair, which is sponsored this year by Russia.

More than 200 Russian intellectuals, government officials, writers and artists have come to Cuba, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Though a few of its members traveled separately to Cuba to take part in an international ballet festival last year, Saturday marked the first time a Bolshoi troupe has come to Cuba since 1980, during an era when Cuba's membership in the Soviet Bloc made Russian arts a major influence on Cuban culture.

"It was a great surprise when they told us we were going to jointly perform with the Cuban ballet," Skvorsto said.


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