Contemporary Dance in Cuba

Técnica Cubana as Revolutionary Movement

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About the Book

The lens of dance can provide a multifaceted view of the present-day Cuban experience. Cuban contemporary dance, or técnica cubana as it is known throughout Latin America, is a highly evolved hybrid of ballet, North American modern dance, Afro-Cuban tradition, flamenco and Cuban nightclub cabaret. Unlike most dance forms, técnica was created intentionally with government backing. For Cuba, a dancing country, it was natural—and highly effective—for the Revolutionary regime to link national image with the visceral power of dance. Written by a dancer who traveled and worked in Cuba from the 1970s to the present, this book provides an inside look at daily life in Cuba. From watching the great Alicia Alonso, to describing the economic trials of the 1990s “Special Period,” the author uses history, humor, personal experience, rich description and extensive interviews to reveal contemporary life and dance in Cuba.

About the Author(s)

Suki John has published articles in the New York Times, Four Seasons Magazine, Village Voice, Dance Magazine, Pointe, Ballet-tanz International, The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Dance, Caribbean Dance, and Dance Research Journal. She has choreographed for Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Compañia Narciso Medina, People’s Yugoslav Theater, Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, Ritmo Flamenco, The 92nd St. Y, DIA Foundation, and The Culture Project. She is an associate professor in the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance, Texas Christian University.

Bibliographic Details

Suki John
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 53 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4901-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9325-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Foreword by Elizabeth Zimmer 1

Preface 4

Introduction 7

Prologue: Havana 1973 12

 1. An Island of Dance 19

 2. Struggle and Sabor 27

 3. Fidelistas and Yanquis 36

 4. Birth of an Art Form: La Técnica Cubana 43

 5. Cuban Dance Legacies 57

 6. Cuban Ballet: Soviet Import or Sovereign School of Art? 76

 7. La Técnica Cubana: Form and Function 96

 8. Politics In—and Out of—the Studio 108

 9. Color 131

10. Keeping the Gods at Bay 137

11. Ramiro Guerra: Técnica De-contextualized 146

12. Modern Dance: A Hearty, Subversive Hybrid 152

13. Personal Perspectives 170

14. International Influence 186

Epilogue: 2011 195

Chapter Notes 196

Bibliography 208

Index 213

Book Reviews

“John’s writing opens a window into Castro’s Cuba through the lens of dance…offers a poignant analysis to American dancers and scholars, long shut out of Cuba by our government and theirs. To read John’s quicksilver prose is to revel in the rich world of Cuban dance and music. John has achieved both for herself and her Cuban colleagues a coup. Read it. Whether you are a ballet or modern dancer, it will send you searching for a visa to train in Cuba”—Dance Magazine; “Suki John’s book on Cuban dance is superb. She skillfully and expertly guides us through the mazeworks of one of the most dance-creative nations on earth. Cuba gave us mambo, rumba, danzon, habanera. John updates all that, showing how Cuba perennially transforms the human body into a rich and ready art form. Strongly recommended.”—Robert Farris Thompson, author of Tango: The Art History of Love and Aesthetic of the Cool.