Tuesday 29 May 2012
Narciso Medina Dance Company
In the morning we first went to see the Community Project of Narciso Medina Dance Company. 15 to 25-year-olds perform and also teach young children. It was started in 1993 as an independent group, became part of the government in 2000. There are 400 students now, from 3 to 30. The choreographer, Narciso Medina, has traveled to South Korea, Japan, and the US (2004, NYC, Maine, Vermont, Dallas.) Recently the company has been performing an emblematic piece of Cuban dance, Metamorfosis, freely based on novelist Franz Kafka´s “The Metamorphosis”. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWPl3-uZGUQ
I enjoyed taking photos in low light with lots of movement. Felt that close-ups of the teen-aged dancers look quite painterly, especially with the dramatic lighting. (You can click on the photos to enlarge them.)
Next we were to visit the Romeo and Juliet Cigar Factory, but they had a shut-down. Reason? Who knows? So at the request of some of our group, we visited two synagogues instead, Sinagoga Bet Shalom and El Patronato Synagogue. The first had an impressive presentation of photographs of Cuban Jews (see above). I also took photos of wall art, part of the Biennial, and flowers (as my father always had).
San Alejandro National Academy of Plastic Arts
After that we visited the San Alejandro National Academy of Plastic Arts. I missed taking photos of the art that someone bought. This sculpture was my favorite.
We had lunch at Club Havana, a hoity-toity restaurant overlooking the beach. According to the Lonely Planet:
This fabulously eclectic mansion in Flores dating from 1928 once housed the Havana Biltmore Yacht & Country Club. In the 1950s the establishment gained brief notoriety when it famously denied entry to Cuban president Batista on the grounds that he was ‘black’. (Batista was in fact of mixed blood with a black mother and a part-Chinese father).
We next went to the Hemingway Museum in his decaying old house. Unfortunately it had started to rain and after a week of sunny days I had neglected to put my rain jacket or umbrella on the bus. Plus because people had been stealing some of the items in the house, it is now closed and you can only look in the windows. I took a short nap on the bus while many of the others trekked through the rain.
Paladar La Fontana
Dinner was at Paladar La Fontana which was part open-air, and therefore wet. Emanating from the fountain (la fontana),a lovely steam with ponds of goldfish (don’t think they were koi) meandered through the area. We were in an air-conditioned room at the end. The artist whose work had been purchased joined us, as well as his wife and his teenage daughter who had been his model.
Cuba Day 8
Wednesday 30 May 2012
Up at 6:30 for an early breakfast and a 7:30 ride to the airport. In Havana a few of the group had to pull their paintings out of the tubes they were in for inspection, but the rest of us sailed through. Don’t think American customs checked anyone. (We were told not to buy Cuban rum or cigars as they are illegal to import. Maybe the dog sniffing the suitcases was trained to smell tobacco.)
Whenever I had been visiting friends or relatives in California I would come home to a dusty Tucson with poorly maintained roads. Returning from Cuba, Tucson looked new, clean and well-kept. Viva America!