Para bailar en casa del trompo: la navidad danzante de Ernesto Alejo
Susana Hernández Martín
Fotos: Carolina Vilches
“Pull the cord and let spinning top dance!” It is enough a phrase, and Santa Clara city awakes from its provincial lethargy it dozes in, the ballet dancers take the street as a barrack and for several days, the nights are filled with brilliant lights and colourful costumes.
Saying good-bye to the old year by dancing is a tradition that repeats itself for eighth occasion in this city, since Ernesto Alejo, the director and choreographer of Danza del Alma, invited everybody to the first edition of the Temporada de la Danza (Period of the Dance) to dance in house of the spinning top (A Cuban phrase that means to beat you at your own game (and in your own turf).
Since then the Santa Clara people wait faithfully for this Christmas dance, which initiates with the workers who arrive loaded with scaffolds to arm the stage in a side of the Leoncio Vidal park, and culminates with the promise of meeting again the following year.
Alejo, another of the quixotic dreamers who turned Santa Clara into fertile soil for his artistic projects, tells that the festival iss an opportunity to demonstrate fans of possibilities that the Cuban dance has, and the variety of works that the choreographers of the country generate.
In this occasion, as in the previous ones, from December 6th through the 22, they several of the most remarkable Cuban dance companies, chosen for their active trajectory during the year and the undeniable quality of their aesthetic proposals.
Also, the meeting was dedicated to Isabel Bustos, National Award of Dance and director of the Danza Teatro Retazos Company, and 25 year anniversary of the Danza Espiral group. Along with these important troupes danced the Folkloric Ballet of Camagüey, Danza Abierta and the Rosario Cárdenas Company.
Santa Clara had its own quota of participation in that the hosts, the Danza del Alma, played a central role, and as it is already usual every year, a special place was reserved for the students of the Olga Alonso Vocational School of Art and the Samuel Feijóo Professional School of Art.
The program also included different theoretical meetings and collateral spaces that included a workshop on the dance writing, the opening of the photographic exhibition Seven years pulling the cord, by Carolina Vilches and Cristyan González, and the exhibition dedicated to the 60 years after artistic life of Perla Rodríguez.
The creator of the festival assures that «it turns out to be very complicated to do an event as this one. It is difficult to please the public, and I am a very little flattering man … I would say that not always it comes what I want to bring, but what I bring is the best of this country, since it is the case of the Ballet of Litz Alfonso and the National Ballet of Cuba».
Reinaldo Echemendía, the director of the Folkloric Ballet of Camagüey, thinks that the principal requisites to dance in Santa Clara is being prepared all your life, and to have a solid company, because the rigor of the public and the guests allows neither improvisations nor amateurisms.
Without pits that separate
The festival validates the beliefs that in times of crisis the most benefited maybe it is the art, since according to its own organizer, he was born in a cultural time depressed for the city, in the middle of the closing ceremony of important institutions as La Caridad Theater , and the absence of spaces for the promotion of the dance.
Presenting themselves in the street was not optional, nevertheless, although at present the some shows also take place in the theater, this one is supported as the principal stage in which the invited groupings appear and in which a major quantity of spectators comes together.
Ernesto Alejo mentions that « the delight of the street is that we achieve the contact with an audience that perhaps is not present at the theater. When there there is not a pit that separates you from the people, you create a different communion ».
He scream of someone calling another person, the horn of a car, the vendor who announces his products, the impassioned whistles of some spectator before the proposed choreographic firebrands of several directors, they shape a species of big performance that completes the twirls of the ballet dancers and award a more urban spirit to the art that they execute.
Jorge Alexander Pausant, leading dancer of the Danza del Alma Company, thinks that to dance outdoors is very different to doing it in closed stages, since the first one assembles very diverse persons, with different ways of thinking and of seeing the dance.
“ The important thing is that many happen accidentally and end up by enjoying a good spectacle, which serves them to approach ballet for the first time and to know the companies, even to decide to be present then at the functions in La caridad » ”.
But the surprise of the walker does not initiate when the lights are on or a curtain rises. The open and indiscreet space of the street offers another usually secret spectacle in view of the public: the rehearsals.
« It is a will of the UNESCO, the International Council of Dance, and the proper artists – he affirms, to take the functions from the conventional spaces. In this sense, every company rehearsals the first day openly, in the stage placed in the park, this way the audience learn teh interiorities of the staging, they see general rehaerasals and the corrections, which is another function ».
Important stronghold for the Cuban dance
To dance in house of the spinning top has turned with the years into one of the strongholds for the development of the dance, into a context marked by the scarcity of spaces of this type inside the island.
Choreographer Rosario Cárdenas tells that « in Cuba there are no many events that involve directly the contemporary dance; there are that of ballet in Havana, but although they are two expressions of the same artistic manifestation, it possesses specificities that differentiate them as genres ».
The directors and ballet dancers coincide that the festival turns out to be enriching for sharing experiences and information through personal exchange, as well as also the companies are nourished of the confluence, since according to the teacher Cárdenas: " without communication the art stagnates ».
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