Cuban National Ballet to Perform in Washington on Tuesday

Cuban National Ballet to Perform in Washington on TuesdayHavana, May 30. -The Cuban National Ballet (BNC) is scheduled to perform on Tuesday in Washington DC, kicking off a month-long tour of the United States, the latest in a series of cultural exchanges between the two countries.

The world-renowned troupe will then go to New York and Costa Mesa, California, before wrapping up the tour in Los Angeles on June 26. The BNC will perform "The Magic of Dance," which includes passages from ballet classics such as "Giselle," "Sleeping Beauty," "Swan Lake," and "Don Quixote." The New York-based American Ballet Theater and members of the New York City Ballet performed in Havana in November during the International Ballet Festival, creating good vibes that prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, general of the BNC, said she hopes to duplicate.

In statements to the press on Friday, Alonso said of the performances by the U.S. companies that "All the people were very happy, so it was a very different change. I hope this time we're going there and it's going to be exactly the same — happiness (for) all of us," she told Reuters.

Alonso, who is 90 and nearly blind, was one of the founders of the American Ballet Theater for which it danced in the 1940s and 1950s, but returned to Cuba after the revolution and created the Cuban National Ballet.

She has groomed dancers who now perform in ballet companies around the world and taken the Cuban company to many nations including the United States several times, the last coming in 2003.

She said this trip was not about politics, but art, which transcends national boundaries and disputes.

Cultural exchanges have blossomed since President Barack Obama took steps to encourage "people-to-people" contact between the two nations.

Last year, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis led a Cuba trip by the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra and pop group Kool and The Gang played a Havana concert, while Cuban musicians including Silvio Rodriguez, Chucho Valdes and Omara Portuondo performed in the United States.

Singer-songwriter Carlos Varela is set for a U.S. tour in June. (Prensa Latina)