Carlos Acosta at the Dressing Room
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 12 / 28 / 2010
The Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, leading star at the Royal Ballet of London, took part in a tour around Cuba, by the end of which he offered some testimonies to one of his old neighbors.
Jorge Petinaud Martínez. “I was also born in Los Pinos, near the stadium”, I told Carlos Acosta in the dressing room of the Gran Teatro de La Habana by the end of the show with which he closed his first tour around five Cuban provinces.
The international dance star was sitting, with his face still full of make-up, surrounded by journalists and fans that came to congratulate him and to ask for a his picture or his autograph.
The Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, the Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, and the President of the National Association of Cuban Writers and Artists, Miguel Barnet, were the first ones to arrive and had already left.
Polite, despite all the visible tiredness, Acosta tried to please everyone after a highly demanding program from the physical, technical, and artistic points of view, far from the great classics, together with several guest figures.
Pieces like Suite of Dances, a solo by the American choreographer Jerome Robbins, and End of Time, by Ben Stevenson, who danced with the prima ballerina of the Cuban National Ballet (BNC, in Spanish) Viengsay Valdés; were absolute premieres in Cuba.
There was a fair wave of applause from a thrilled audience after the telluric and technically impeccable performances by Acosta and Valdés at the plays Je ne regrette rien (I Don’t Regret Anything) and Les burgeois (The Bourgeois), the last one with music composed by Jacques Brel.
In the choreography Two, the 2007 Laurence Olivier Prize winner for the best show presented in London, named Tocororo, shined again due to the richness and strength of his gestures, accentuated by the lights and the music composed by Andy Cowton.
With the opening and the closure played by the cellist Amparo del Riego in Intimidad and Balada del amor adolescente, Acosta paid homage to the Cuban pianist and composer José María Vitier.
This was proper culmination for a tour that, in less than ten days, included performances in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, and Havana City.
The presentation of Laura Ríos (from the company Danza Contemporánea de Cuba) in the choreography Cara o cruz, created by Jorge Abril and backed up by the piece Guaguancó, composed by Guido López Gavilán and played by the Camerata Romeu; gave people an idea of Carlos Acosta’s intercultural philosophy.
In the 21st Century
Los Pinos. The stadium. My evocation of his origins made him time-travel. “The ‘Eladio Cid’ sports field, in my neighborhood?”, he asked, and he immediately answered to himself with the smile of the naughty boy he used to be: “I used to sneak out and go there to play soccer, but I was bad at that sport and I wasn’t chosen. I included that story in my autobiographic book, to which I devoted 10 years of patient writing”, he commented with all the possible yearning reflected in his intonation and his eyes”.
A journalist praised the work and said she had read it in Spain.
“It hurts me that it hasn’t been published in my country, yet. All of us are in that book”, the bronze Spartacus that moved the Bolshoi Theater in the summer of 2007, during his first presentation in Moscow, observed emphatically and visibly proud of his roots.
Then he retook the dialogue with two journalism students that remained sitting in front of him, each of them with a recorder all set to capture what he said. He treated them like established professionals.
The beauty and topicality of the creations staged by Acosta and his guests, as well as the emotive reception of a public that can appreciate good art, brought up a question about the classic repertoire and the future of the Cuban National Ballet.
“There’s not the slightest doubt, our ballet is the best. It is the fruit of the labor done, in the 20th century, by Fernando and Alicia Alonso. We must feel proud and take care of it as a treasure”, the interviewee assured.
“In my particular case, I seek a creation that, without forgetting about the solid foundations, can be projected into the 21st century”, he observed.
“I dream about having my own company and forming dancers able to play the classic and the contemporary. I don’t know if I’m going to achieve that”.
He also expressed the aspiration of showing the Cuban public a repertoire that includes much of the most up-to-date things that are being done in the world.
“I believe we shouldn’t stay behind”, he declared.
Curious and restless, the students wouldn’t stop asking, and with the same courtesy he had displayed up to that moment, the artist stood up and invited them to take the final picture.
“I’m exhausted, I must go to have dinner and rest.”
When only a young blond that was with Acosta, him, and I were left at the dressing room, he asked me what kind of cultural help I would like to ask him for Los Pinos.
The first thing is to build a photo gallery at the José Antonio Méndez Community Cultural Center, which used to be the Irene movie theatre, with personalities from that zone.
I remembered that figures like the King of Filing, Nisia Agüero, Arturo Harvey (Alambre Dulce), Manuel Labarrere (from the Van Van), many other musicians, and the very Carlos Acosta had lived in Los Pinos.
He stopped what he was doing in front of the mirror to take the make-up off from his face and looked at me like trying to guess my real intentions.
“Aren’t you afraid that our friends from the Lumumba or La Perla communities may be troublesome in the activities?”, he slipped in with a certain irony, typical in the human being that knows his neighborhood, has traveled to all the continents, and is fluent at three languages.
“It is all about consolidating a cultural project to transform the people”, I insisted.
“Then count me in”, he affirmed with a smile.
When we said goodbye he confessed to be very tired.
I have only a few days of vacation left, and I want to dedicate them to my father, he concluded as he shook my hand.
*Translated by: Adriana Pinelo Avendaño