What an exciting trip this was! Overall, I was extremely impressed with the kindness and enthusiasm of the Cuban ballet fans. Dance is a huge deal in Havana--there are pictures of Alicia Alonso everywhere. Many people saw our first performance and insisted on coming back for the second one. They waited for us outside the stage door and took pictures and asked for autographs. They tried hard to communicate to us in broken English how much they enjoyed the program. I met some people in the hotel who had traveled from Argentina specifically to see the dance festival. Even the workers at our hotel went to our show!
In between our two shows, we had some time to play. We enjoyed a morning at the beach and wandered around old Havana, which is full of shops and restaurants. For our final evening, we bought tickets for a dance show called Tropicana. It was two solid hours of Cuban-style dance, with singing, live music, and even some acrobatics. I thought it was spectacular!
What a thrill and an honor to be a part of this trip. Jared [Angle], Tyler [Angle] and Marc Happel, who is head of the NYCB costume shop, made it all possible--special thanks to them. Hopefully, lines of communication throughout the dance community will remain open and we will be able to participate in the dance festival again!
New York City Ballet principal Abi Stafford recently performed in Cuba as part of the Havana International Dance Festival. Read her first guest post here.