CUBA – EXPLORE THE CULTURE NEXT DOOR

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This post is about becoming (re)acquainted with Cuba through support of  a cultural organization.  There are upcoming performances in New York and an opportunity to go to travel-restricted Cuba.

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NOT EVEN FROM KEY WEST:   No, you probably can’t see Cuba from a Cuba mapkitchen in Key West but, really, it is awfully close to the United States.  Hmmm … close enough for a certain 64-year old female endurance swimmer to swim the 110 miles between Miami and Havana in roughly 53 hours.  Close enough to be a key plot point in the musical Guys and Dolls where, on a bet,  Sky Masterson takes Salvation Army Matron Sarah Brown to Two newspapersHavana – for dinner.  It’s (much) closer than Puerto Rico.  Closer than Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  So, why oh why is Cuba generally off our radar?  Well, the obvious reason is because of the US embargo which has been in place in one form or another since 1960 soon after the overthrow of the Batista regime and the onset of the Cuban Revolution.  From a US perspective, it’s almost as though the country was put into a state of suspended animation.  How many people do you know who have been to Cuba?

Photo:  Thom Kaine

Photo: Thom Kaine

Probably not too many.  For those intrigued by the vibrant, exciting, bold, stimulating, effervescent, dynamic and passionate culture so close to US shores,  Cuba … beckons.  But given the embargo the basic conundrum is how one can explore this compelling place which has been somewhat overlooked by many Americans.  Well, one way is to forge a relationship with a Cuban cultural organization as did experiential enthusiast, cultural supporter and WIndows ProjectMWC member Cynthia Rogers who has become involved with THE WINDOWS PROJECT.  Her initial awareness of the country and culture was heightened after being introduced to the acclaimed Cuban-born choreographer and master teacher, Pedro Ruiz, and the American arm of THE WINDOWS PROJECT’s benefactor organization, the Ludwig Foundation.  After returning to Cuba after an almost 30-year absence, Mr. Ruiz (who now lives in New York and works with Alvin Ailey) created THE WINDOWS PROJECT  (the subject of a WNET/13 documentary, Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home)  as a means to use his craft – dance – to foster cross-cultural exchange and educational opportunities.

Ruiz Coming Home

Cuban Dancers DMWC IS INVITED:  On Saturday, October 5th at Alvin Ailey THE WINDOWS PROJECT will be hosting a performance of Cuban dancers followed by cocktails and dancing (this is for everyone – not just the professionals!) to Dave Owuendo & Havana 3 later into the evening.   Additionally, for a life-changing one-week immersion into Cuba and its culture, there is a trip Cuban Dancers Bbeing planned for  late January.  Part of the trip will be to Camaguey (a central province and municipality) where the dance company, Ballet Contemporaneio Endendans de Camaguey, Cuba, is based and also, of course, to Havana.  Visas will be obtained as part of a cultural exchange program and, as it happens, this trip is being used to bring medical supplies, art materials and other needed provisions to the dance group.   Opening night of Mr. Ruiz’ commissioned piece will take place in Camaguey at the beginning of the trip and coincides with the beginning of a year long celebration of Camaguey’s 500th anniversary.  Cost for this trip is being determined, but a portion of it will be earmarked as a contribution to THE WINDOWS PROJECT.

Photo:  Thom Kaine

Photo: Thom Kaine

Doesn’t this all sound pretty fascinating?  If you’re interested in attending the performance and/or dance evening and/or  want to join the cultural trade group to Cuba, send in an email (admin@manhattanwomensclub.com) with “Cuba” in the subject line and let us know what you’re particularly interested in.  We will get you the right information right away – and get you on your way to exploring the culture next door.

Photo:  Thom Kaine

Photo: Thom Kaine

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