Another Cuban Cultural jewel, Camagüey's Ballet
By Sergio Morales Vera Photos: Roberto Morejón
The Camagüey Ballet is a true jewel of Cuban culture and a proud institution of this city in the centre of Cuba. Its artistic achievements and reputation are well known by national and international audiences and critics.
Founded on December 1, 1967 by the renowned ballet teacher, Vicentina de la Torre, the company has always been a worthy example of the Cuban School of Ballet. In its four decades of existence, the CB has been directed by prestigious ﬁgures in the world of classical ballet.
Among them is Fernando Alonso, founder of the Cuban School of Ballet, the Cuban National Ballet Company, and ex-husband of Alicia Alonso.
Alonso, at the helm of the CB between 1975 and 1992, contributed substantially in boosting the company's professionalism. The group of dancers he worked with faced the stylistic challenges of the contemporary movement and took the company to a place where, today, they are considered the second most important ballet ensemble in Cuba.
The CB began their international tours in 1978 and achieved great success in many countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Its repertoire includes more than 250 ballets with 120 of them being contemporary and modem.
Along with the universally known ballets, there are others created by their own choreographers who have recreated aspects of Cuba's identity with Camagüey's idiosyncrasies.
The indisputable artistic quality of the CB has been rewarded with many prizes at important international competitions and festivals.
The company has been directed by Regina M. Balaguer for already a decade now. She acted as the regisseur (the ballet stage director) from 1985 to 1996 and graduated with a degree in Stage Arts, specializing in ballet, from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana.
Among the CB's artistic programs is the sponsorship of Camagüey's International Dance Festival held every two years. This festival welcomes the most important Cuban companies and foreign guests.
The Teatro Principal (Main Theatre), a beautiful mid-nineteenth century colonial building, is the home of the company in Camagüey. There is also the Centre for the Promotion of Ballet and Dance in a spacious mansion with large gardens on the outskirts of town.Lesson on ballet technique according to the style and methodology of the Cuban School of Ballet are delivered there.
Each year, this prestigious school offers special courses in ballet, classic duos, folklore, character dance, traditional and contemporary repertoire, teaching methodology, kinesiology, history of dance, and piano for ballet. It also provides training on the use of music, making of ballet shoes, and wardrobe design.
For its achievements, Camagüey's Ballet has been awarded the National Medal of Culture and the Juan Marinello Order, two of the highest awards given by Cuba's State Council and the Ministry of Culture.
On its 40th anniversary celebration, the CB performed an excellent program with the same ballets they presented in its ﬁrst appearance: La Fille mal Gardée, Les Slylphides, and the Pas de Trois of Swan Lake's ﬁrst act.
Interview with the General Director of Camagüey's Ballet, Regina Balaguer.
CubaPLUS- How is the Camagüey Ballet doing 40 years from its creation?
Regina- The Camagüey Ballet is celebrating its anniversary having reached a high technical and artistic level and with a young cast of dancers with an average age between 18 and 21 years old. Since its foundation, the company has celebrated success after success due to the excellence of its work. We are constantly working to preserve the highest standards of national culture and our performances on international stages are always highly received by the critics.
How does the Camagüey Ballet ﬁt with in the so called Cuban School of Ballet.
- This company is a result of the Cuban School of Ballet's work. Its dancers, teachers, choreographers, and directors were trained in the spirit of that school. That is why it is considered a faithful example of the School's style. Nevertheless, it reﬂects the social and spiritual life in Camagüey. lts presentations have their own authenticity which distinguishes them from other Cuban companies.
Is the Camagüey Ballet considered a classical or modern ballet company?
- In its early stages, the repertoire included traditional works. As time went by and the company developed, it has gained versatility and today it work with a variety of styles ranging from the classics to the most modern styles. Some choreography are based on Cuban and regional identities while others work with Latin American and more universal cultures.
What are the origins of most of the CB's dancers?
- They are all trained with in the artistic educational system. There are art schools, located all over the island, that include ballet courses lasting ﬁve years. If those graduating wish to continue their ballet studies, they may choose between the National Ballet School in Havana and the Vicentina de la Torre Academy in Camagüey, both lasting three more years. From that point on they may enter some of the different dance companies in the country.
Tell us about your latest international tours.
- We recently returned from a successful tour in Columbia. We toured through ﬁve cities and concluded with a workshop on classical ballet delivered by choreographer José Antonio Chávez and myself. Master Fernando Alonso also participated with a lesson on the Cuban School of Ballet.
Prior to that, we toured 37 Italian cities with an excellent welcome from the audience.