CUBA Y CHICAGO: The International Dance Experience

The Ruth Page Center for the Arts obtained official permission from the US and Cuba to initiate the first official artistic and collaborative exchange with Cuba's Escuela Nacional de Ballet.  Our two organizations are both noted for their exceptional training history and professional artistry, and our primary goal in this exchange is to explore the differences in dance methodology and training, especially within ballet and contemporary dance genres, while creating cross-cultural learning and a shared artistic experience. The collaboration also includes the creation of new choreography that both institutions will develop together in partnership with Cuba’s renowned pianist and composer, Frank Fernandez, a Cuban “national treasure” whose work is internationally recognized, that will be premiered in both countries.

The Ruth Page Center's connection to Cuba began many years ago when Ruth Page, herself, was presented and performed in Havana in 1932.  She was described in the press as “perhaps the best dancer of ballet in the world” as she performed to George Gershwin’s “Prelude in Blue” while the composer himself was in attendance. Our collaboration with ENB is an opportunity to carry on the legacy of Ms. Page while also honoring their founder, Alicia Alonso, both pioneering ballerinas, teachers and performers.  ENB is also the largest school of its kind in the world and the same institution where Ruth Page School of Dance Director, Victor Alexander, received his professional training. This is a historic moment in our national and artistic lives.  Dance artists and students from both countries are living in a pivotal time.  This exchange provides an opportunity to learn, engage and develop artistically with one another. 

The Escuela Nacional de Ballet is the largest ballet school in the world and the most prestigious ballet school in Cuba.  Many of the school’s alumni are eminent professionals, recognized in Cuba and internationally.  Most of them form part of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, one of the most important companies in the world.  The Ruth Page School of Dance, located within The Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago and one of the leading dance training centers in the country, has for over 44 years provided the highest level of training to talented young dancers and professionals.  Students will train in the School’s dance program before moving on to national and international professional dance companies.

Project Timeline:
June 22-July 1, 2015: The Director, instructors, artists and students of Escuela Nacional de Ballet travel to Chicago to be part of the Ruth Page Center's 2015 Summer Intensive & Workshops. ENB instructors will teach master classes in Cuban ballet technique and methodology to approximately 150 advanced level students and professional dance artists from across the United States who are participating in the Intensive.  The ENB students will take class side-by-side with their U.S. counterparts in a variety of dance modalities, adding a new dimension to their educational experiences and making individual awareness and appreciation of each others countries and cultures more vivid and personal. Work begins on the collaborative choreographic project between the Ruth Page Civic Ballet and the Cuban students and artists.  An informal showing of this work-in-progress will be presented at the Ruth Page Center Theater. One lecture/demonstration on Cuba's ballet training pedagogy will be given by ENB's Director and held in partnership with Northeastern Illinois University. This will be open to the public. An online version of this lecture will be promoted through social media platforms and our website.

October 3-15, 2015: Members of the Ruth Page Civic Ballet, two instructors and the Director of the school of dance travel to Havana and will participate in classes and special workshops at the Escuela Nacional de Ballet, propagating an on-going artistic and learning collaborative experience. Culmination of the new choreographic collaboration is presented in a joint performance, showcasing how each organization has influenced the others artistry. Digital archiving of the workshops and performance will be later presented online.  

Summer, 2016: Ruth Page Civic Ballet presents the completed choreography in a joint performance with fellow RPCA's Artist In-Residence, CDI/Concert Dance Inc, at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL. There will also be a post-performance moderated panel discussion.

CUBA Y CHICAGO: THE INTERNATIONAL DANCE EXPERIENCE would not have been possible without the generous support of The Ruth Page Foundation; the MacArthur Foundation's International Connections Fund; Escuela Nacional de Ballet, Cuba; Copa Airlines, our official airline; and countless individuals.  THANK YOU!


For Additional Information:
Silvino da Silva
Director, Marketing & Communications
The Ruth Page Center for the Arts