On the street, Silvina Fabars seems to have lots of children and grandchildren. Generations of Cubans hug and kiss her, devote smiles and words of affection, while the slender and very smug mulatto disguises her 70 years of age with the grace and joy that she walks on stage. The prima ballerina of the National Folk Ensemble still dances and ensures she will dance for a long time to come.
The warmth of this Cuban woman contrasts with her attachment to the discipline and tradition. “Folklore has its line, just like when you are dancing Swan Lake. Versions may exist but the key point of the work will always be in all and that the same happens in folklore, has its line, its ethics, its codes, I try to teach my children, as I call the students – they should do things as pure as possible. As it is well known the origin of matter, we can interpret in different ways without losing the roots. I am a folklorist, I fell I am the daughter of Rogelio Martinez Fure (National Dance Award 2002) , ” she openly declared.
Fabars shares her knowledge because she understands as a religious duty to pass on the heritage that other generations handed to her. She defends the teachings of her teachers and the awareness of the value of tradition in dance. As an educator she has shared with multiple companies across the island for decades, so she can properly speak about the Cuban dancer, whether classical, folk or contemporary.
“Usually, we are very concerned people; we have a gift of grace, of skilled and joyful beings. That is something that not only dance needs but art in general and life as such as the Cuban not only dances when he is a dancer, we dance while walking , incredible but true , we are the kings of the movement ,” she says and bursts out laughing . So many decades of experience allow her to successfully combine professionalism with grace, so when Silvina converses with her wide smile everybody joins her contentment but know she is serious, very serious, and they respect her.
As she has collaborated with various companies in the country, the teacher feels that every province has a bit. For her it is an honor that various institutions summon her, not just folklore groups, she also features in contemporary dance companies and the Ballet de Camagüey. Fabars teaches at universities and centers of England in cities like London and Liverpool, the Cultural Center of Tokyo in Japan, the Canadian College of Banff, the cultural centers of Minnesota and Los Angeles, in the United States.
However, no one looks at her from the distance, with Silvina all is closeness because her extremely humble peasant origin defines the professional and human alike. She is a tireless dancer and teacher but not for that will today she would be unknown because Fabars came to art as a singer in her early youth and lost a vocal cord in an accident.
“I was fortunate enough to get to the National Folk when it was just founded and found there Nieves Fresneda, Isola Pedroso, Agustín Gutiérrez-stellar orchestral musician-, Zenaida Armenteros (National Dance Award 2005), Roberto Espinosa, Emilio Ofarril, Servando Gutierrez and other artists. All helped make my career after the accident because in the time I was hospitalized they forced me to learn folk dance, they told me of its history in Cuba. In my native Eastern province these dances were not known, “she says.
According to Silvina in her region she saw Franco-Haitian demonstrations, but nothing comparable to the variety of ceremonies that took place in the West. Many of her teachers worked even with the great anthropologist Fernando Ortiz and she believed that drinking from these sources gave her the opportunity to hone the new dances she learned.
“The Ensemble was my life, brought me around, gave me its hand and I knew how to grab that. So I dedicated myself to giving back and began to teach. I gave myself the task of helping to form almost all companies in the country, so I feel that in all the provinces I have a bit, even in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud. Still I travel from east to west 10, 15 times a year to provide care because it is not only doing, but maintaining. Luckily, at all events I am invited to review classes and works, to see if it meets the content, because the folklore seems easy but it is not, “she adds.
After the accident, her tenacity led her to become very fast a soloist at the National Folk Ensemble and a choreography marked her career: Yoruba iyessá , by Mexican Rodolfo Reyes. When Silvina saw her teacher Luisa Barroso in the piece it became almost an obsession to sit on the same throne. “It’s my masterpiece, I love it,” she says with rapture.
“Yoruba Iyessá is the dance of my life and always wanted those who think as I dance when I sat on the throne. I was inspired by Luisa Barroso, in her manner, in the way, because always in folklore there has to be a point of reference. Folklore had no definite technique but the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional had the permission to create a technical basis and dancers today are taught by those specific movements, from the tip of the big toe to the hair, “the teacher says.
According to Fabars, other works that marked her were Cycle Congo and Arara , in which she made contributions to the character to dance with a loose basket on her head. That habit was common in her native Realengo 18 as peasant thereby carried the water and baskets to carry food or clothing to relatives in the countryside. ” I carried a lot of water , that’s what gave me the balance that I have ,” she says proudly .
The folklore is nourished by the cultural traditions of the country at all times and some traditions in Cuba, like in all nations, change with the times. Certain features are changed, added or subtracted. New generations of distant common ancestors, and somehow this will influence the folklore.
“Dialectic says you must change to meet your goal, but in the folklore I disagree entirely. We can do with free speech works but the line should not be missed, that I always try to instill in my students. When we are to teach a subject we must do it well, to project it well, otherwise, instead of guiding we make people disoriented, “she explains
“I am faithful to the folklore, and I was able to dance more contemporary works, staging by teacher Santiago Alfonso , Eduardo Rivero , Gerardo Lastra , Contemporary Dance of Cuba , many people included me in creations, but the choreography should be seen as those without violating the laws by which we have been governed , ” the dancer says.
At 70, Silvina likes to keep her shape, avoids having a belly and attracts everything that displays energy. “You always want more, I demand more of myself and I want to pass that energy to my students. I won’t stop doing it as long as I breathe” she concludes.