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The Royal Ballet in Havana

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Wow...such a historic event. I just got notice from a balletomane friend in Havana that it was a nightmare for him to get tickets. I'm very excited, as this is the first time Cubans will be able to watch this Company live. I replayed my friend's e-mail with a note, asking him to try to take notes that he can send to me, so I can post them. I even told him that it would be great if he could sign in on the board and do the work himself, but I know he has some kind of "special arrengement" to have access to the internet, and I think he is granted some reduced online time, which he uses basically to send e-mails. Also, he's not that fluent in English. Anyways, if anything I'm THRILLED that he and some other friends will be able to watch "Manon" for the first time..!!

"Directed at present by Dame Monica Mason, an ex ballerina of the company, the Royal Ballet will be in Havana from July 14 to 18, in two of our main theaters and performing two different programs.

On days 14, 15 and 16 in the Gran Teatro de La Habana, it will offer a performance which includes the ballets Chroma by resident choreographer Wayne McGreggor and A Month in the Country, by Sir Frederick Ashton. This program is completed with a divertissement including the pas de deux Spring Voices and Thais, by Ashton, Romeo and Juliet and Farewell by Mac Millan, and Le Corsaire by Petipa.

Chroma was created in 2006 and got the coveted award Oliver the following year to the best new dance production. It is a contemporary play aiming to take the physical capabilities of the dancers to the limit in keeping with the insurgent score written by Joby Talbor and the White Stripes.

On the other hand, A Month in the Country is a poetic choreographic recreation of the novel with the same name written by Ivan Turgueniev the plot of which revolves around the arrival of tutor Beliaev to Natalia Petrovna’s place and the love triangle created with the young Vera. Premiered by Ashton in 1976, the play has the exquisite music by Chopin arranged by John Lanchbery and it is a beautiful example of the aristocratic style of the English choreography.

During the divertissement the public will have the opportunity to enjoy the anthological duet of Romeo and Juliet by MacMillan, a play premiered in 1965, based no the notes by Prokofiev, by the famous duet of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev; El adiós is an excerpt of the ballet Winter Dreams, also by Mac Millan, and music by Tchaikovsky inspired in The Three Sisters Anton Chejov, premiered in 1991 by the Russian Irek Mujamedov and the English Darcey Bussell; Spring Voices, duo created by Ashton for the production of the operetta The Bat by Johann Strauss in 1977 in the Covent Garden, was premiered by Merle Park and Wayne Eagling and it’s a bubbling recreation in keeping with the spirit of the “king of waltz”; Thais, also by Ashton and coming from the lyrical genre for it uses the famous Meditation of the opera with the same by Jules Massenet, was created in 1971 by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell; finally, the well-tried pas de deux of the ballet Le Corsaire, touchstone of the academic techniques that Fonteyn and Nureyev made popular.

The performances on July 16, conceived as homage to the Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso will be special. The dancers of the Royal Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet will share the well-known duets of the ballets Giselle, Tema y variaciones, Don Quixote and The Black Swan, besides Spring Voices and Farewell.

On days 17 and 18 the performances of the Royal Ballet in Havana will take place in the Karl Marx Theater, with the full staging in thee acts of the ballet Manon by Kenneth Mac Millan, performed by Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta –as guest artist– on the first day, and by Alina Cojucaru and Johan Kobborg on its second staging.

Manon was premiered by the English company in 1974 with choreography by MacMillan based on the novel written by abate Prevost History of knight Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut, which also inspired the operas by Jules Massenet and Giacomo Puccini. The choreographer used the music written by the French author, although he didn’t use the music of the opera but other less-known pieces, with arrangements by Leighton Lucas. Its original performers were Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell as Manon and Des Grieux, and David Wall as Lescaut. Ballet in three acts and lasting a whole night, Manon has the sumptuous designs by Nicholas Georgiadis and it’s an eloquent sample of the sophisticated, magnificent style of the English ballet.

The cast visiting Havana includes 96 dancers with all the first figures of the company. This visit is part of the summer tour of the Royal Ballet, which also includes performances in Granada and Washington.

In order to the performances of the Royal Ballet reach a greater number of people, giant screens will be placed in front of the Capitolio –for the three performances in the Gran Teatro– and near by the Karl Marx Theater –in the case of the last two performances".




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Thank you so much for that info, Cristian. Do you have any information on how tickets were distributed or how they were priced? Given the different economic systems and currencies, I would imagine that this visit would have to be heavily subsidized by someone.

Can't wait to hear from your friend about the performance and audience responses.

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bart...tickets were sold in the national currency for Cubans, US dollars/euros to tourists. As usual, 90 % of the performances are sold to nationals, with a price that is basically symbolic-(like 5 cents of a dollar, according to the current conversion). The venues are big-(see pics below)-and ALL performances were 100 % sold in just a couple of hours after they went on sale, but still, the salaries of dancers and other staff won't be profits from theater selling, so I also wonder how does that works out... :)



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Cristian, those performances are also Ansanelli's last, so if there are reports, please relay them.

I know...just as with Julio Bocca. Their last rendition done in Havana. I have my Messenger on all the time in case my friend can connect...(usually after midnight, so let's see...)

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