The Wall Street Journal found itself invited to a reception for ABT at the estate residence of John Farrar, the chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in suburban Havana. Sounds like a party not to have missed.
On Monday night, New York City’s American Ballet Theatre gathered for a reception in this improbable outpost of grand Federalist style in the capital of Communist country. The ballet company’s visit to Cuba – its first in 50 years — is part of the International Ballet Festival of Havana, which this year is celebrating Alicia Alonso, the Cuban ballerina and founder of the National Ballet of Cuba.
With a run of performances, classes and rehearsals ahead, the mojitos at the reception were for sipping, not chugging. Dancers and guests from political and cultural sectors politely mingled on the terrace. And because the party came at the end of ABT’s first full day in Cuba, talk turned easily to first impressions.
And here's a recap of the first evening of performances at the Festival from Escambray. Alicia Alonso attended with Raul Castro:
The Garcia Lorca Hall of the Gran Teatro of Havana vibrated with a packed audience ready to give back, to pay homage to her determination, her courage and the tenacity with which she nurtured a school and a dance company whose hallmark has been recognized worldwide.
Cuban President Raul Castro accompanied her in the royal box from which she symbolically opened the doors to a festival that attracts to Cuba very important companies and dance performances every two years.