Luna Negra was found in 1999 by Cuban-born dancer and choreographer Eduardo Vilaro. The troupe’s mission was to celebrate the richness and diversity of Latino culture through the creation of works by contemporary Latino choreographers. At the time of its closing, Luna Negra included 10 dancers and five apprentice dancers.
What is Dance Theater of Harlem? “It’s not just a job,” she said. “It’s not just a dance company. It’s a message. And the dancers are responding so well to the fact that they are bearers of this message in their physical selves and in their spiritual embodiment of this idea that you can make something of yourself.”
The seven young members of the internationally acclaimed National Ballet of Cuba who defected last month after a tour in Mexico came to the United States in search of wider artistic horizons, one of them has declared…The decision to defect “was hard but we made it firmly, without thinking about the past, only the future,” said Ruiz Diaz.
…the film chronicles the Youth America Grand Prix, the annual and prestigious ballet competition that draws contestants from all over the world. The prize? Scholarships and contracts that make the…years of practice and discipline all worth it…The documentary follows six young dancers though the competition…
more, plus trailer, here.
Being a ballerina of color in New York City has never been easy. In 2012, young minority women looking to make a career in this still very white art form face a daunting choice: Do they look to follow Misty Copeland, the lone African American dancer of rank at Manhattan’s two major companies? Or do they hold out hope that [Washington DC] native Virginia Johnson successfully revives Dance Theatre of Harlem, the historically black company slated to debut next year?
art: photo of Copeland
Cuba is opening up to the outside world But you can’t rush the process if you want to retain a country’s authenticity and culture. Look at islands such as Puerto Rico; I don’t know where its culture ends and American culture begins. When the transnationals arrive, it’s all about the money and they take over, so Cuba has to be careful.
Carlos Acosta, Cuban ballet star
Today Cuban defectors hold principal positions in many of the United States’ top ballet companies. The distinctive Cuban style—which emphasizes speed and athleticism, as well as theatricality—has colored technique standards from New York to San Francisco…”Cubans are leaving for a lot of the same reasons the Russians left,” says Roca, a native Cuban and former dance critic, now living in Miami. “And we all know that dancers like (Rudolph) Nureyev and (Mikhail) Baryshnikov changed the way the world saw dance. In many ways, the same thing is happening with Cuba today.”
much more, here.
black swans, for real?
the company started in 2001 by Cassa Pancho with a mission to “provide dancers and students of black and Asian descent with inspiring opportunities in classical ballet”. Of Trinidadian and British parentage, Pancho studied classical ballet at the Royal Academy. “All through ballet school I was really aware of the lack of black people around me,” she says. “So for my dissertation I thought I would interview black women working in ballet and see what they had to say—but I couldn’t find a single black woman working in ballet, and that really stunned me. When I graduated, I decided, very naively, to do something about it myself.”
…In the early days, due to the lack of classically trained black ballet dancers in the UK, the company took dancers with a more contemporary background, which left them open to criticism. “We weren’t able to hold ourself to the standard of companies like the Royal Ballet,” Pancho says, “so people probably made comments about the level of technique. And we didn’t always go for a stick-thin look…”
art: painting by Henry C. Porter