Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

David Lichine in Havana

Recommended Posts

I'm reading an interesting book on the history of the great nightclubs and casinos that made La Habana-(AKA Havana)-of the 40's and 50 the nest of the biggest mafia-controlled gaming network outside US. The whole thing started with the "Havana Conference", which was held during the week of December 22, 1946 at the Hotel Nacional, being its masterminds Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. The Havana Conference is considered to have been the most important mob summit since the Atlantic City Conference of 1929.

Anyway...the point is that one of the major establishments that were mob-controlled during the pre-communist times was the famous "Tropicana" nightclub.

And here is where a little ballet history is involved... :huh:

"The great Tropicana productions begin in this decade, although the nightclub situated in Villa Mina or Mansión Truffin (corner of 41st and 72nd, Marianao) was still lacking the extravagance that it would later acquire. Perhaps the show that inaugurated this era was the one entitled "Congo Pantera" (1940 or 1941) which presented Rita Montaner, Julio Richards, Carmita Ortiz, Ignacio Villa (Bola de Nieve) and the great drummer, composer and singer Chano Pozo. This super-show, which is of interest to us here because of the participation of Chano, was in part the result of pure chance, due to the presence of the great ballet choreographer David Lichine in Cuba. Lichine had come to the country with Coronel Basil's Ballet Russes , which in spite of its fame went bankrupt, leaving its members to manage on their own. Hired to do this show, Lichine took two of the leading figures from the Ballet, Tatiana Leskova and Paul Petroff, and part of the Coronel's dance corps. He also found a number of extras (figurantes) "of color" to fulfill the demands of an international tourism eager to see "tropical exoticism", all of this with a distinctive Afro-Cuban music and original choreography, to which Julio Richards contributed, along with all of the resources of staging, lighting and wardrobe.

"Congo Pantera" turned out to be historic for various reasons, which can be reduced to the encounter of three such dissimilar performers as David Lichine, Chano Pozo and an individual who also participated as an assistant to Lichine and Richards, whose name was Roderico Neyra, later better known as Rodney. This encounter Lichine-Rodney-Chano Pozo would be for the world of show business in Cuba as important as the one between Chano and Dizzy Gillespie was for Afro-Cuban jazz or Cubop some years later..."

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...