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Biennial of Dance of the Caribbean in Cuba started with the right foot
The idea was to plunge the city into the middle of this revelry, immersed in afternoons and evenings of dance, with parks crowded with on-lookers enjoying the dance groups. It was thought that nothing would be better than receiving the guest dancers with yet more dancing.

The opening ceremony of the festival took place this past Thursday at the Mella Theater. Two emblematic dance companies were charged with opening the event. The National Ballet of Cuba performed two renowned pas de deux (Spring Water and Don Quixote), together with a hearty and acclaimed Symphony for Nine Men, by James Nelly. The other company was the Modern Dance Company of Cuba, with the performance of Demo-n/Crazy, by Catalan Rafael Bonachela.

A hectic program of activities has distinguished this first edition, although the main attraction will be the works in competition. Talks, discussions and lectures have dealt with essential topics that concern dance producers: the need to create strategies to promote the recognition of new approaches to modern dance in the Caribbean; the introduction of this form of dance in mainstream circuits; the impact of the market on group performances, and the influence of critics and the press in the analysis and promotion of this artistic expression, were some of the most demanded topics for discussion.

The events artistic director, Noel Bonilla Chongo, said the effort is aimed at "creating a space of exchange, confrontation and dialogue between colleagues in the Caribbean. It will be a platform to take our art to an international level in terms of recognition and validation. The biennial was organized by the National Council of Stage Arts of Cuba, Culturesfrance and the Brownstone Foundation. This is the ideal framework for bringing the cultural relations between our peoples closer, and at the same time it will promote artistic progress and human improvement for everyone: choreographers, dancers, teachers, researchers, students and spectators."

Argentinean choreographer and researcher, Susana Tambutti, who was part of the jury of this first biennial, said to the Juventud Rebelde newspaper that this meeting should serve as a springboard for artistic dance to be legitimized beyond narrow perspectives that sees it as pure entertainment, as something exotic. The rich dance tradition of the Caribbean should be proudly shown.

The awards of this first edition went to Awilda Polanco and Cecilia Camino (Compañía Blò a Blò, from the Dominican Republic), for "Exclamaciones," and to Luvyen Mederos (Cuba), for "Coca-Cola Dreams," in the categories of collective pieces and solos, respectively. According to jury member Ramiro Guerra, winner of the National Award of Cuba Dance, the first piece recreates one of the most deeply rooted problems in our region: machismo, and the second proposes a multiple and critical look at the individual as the reproducer of stereotypes.

The closing ceremony will take place tonight at the Mella Theater, where the audience will have the possibility of seeing the award winning routines and the latest premiere work by the Cuban Modern Dance Company, El peso de una isla, choreographed by the young Georges Céspedes.


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