Camagüey Ballet closes its summer season in Spain in style


This year, walking along Gran Vía, in the midst of the withering heat, I stumbled upon the image of a white swan in the radiant marquee of the EDP theater: the season of Swan Lake by the Camagüey Ballet was being announced
Camagüey Ballet closes its summer season in Spain in style
Photo: Prensa Latina

Barcelona, Aug 10th– José Lezama called it «competitive chance.» My lack of religious affiliation makes me believe in that fact that the Cuban writer alerted when an unplanned event occurred. I’ve checked it lots of times, I’ve felt it, and I even think I’ve caressed it at some point.

Last July, life took me to Madrid, I walked through its streets tasting its flavors, its beers and tapas, I went marching through Chueca, Callao, the Barrio de las Letras, I melted into the crowd at a concert in Plaza España, in the middle of the gay pride festivities.

20 years ago I was in Madrid for the first time. It was August 3rd, 2003, with such tremendous heat as the one I experienced this July. I have been to the city several times, I have even lived in it and I always feel the violence of the heat of Madrid like that of Havana. But the Spanish capital continues to be one of the most visited, people have fun, get lost in the joy of its bars and picturesque streets.

This year, walking along Gran Vía, in the midst of the withering heat, I stumbled upon the image of a white swan in the radiant marquee of the EDP theater: the season of Swan Lake by the Camagüey Ballet was being announced.

Again, Lezama returned with his concurrent chance. It was late at night and I only managed to take several photos of the advertisement. I wrote Regina Balaguer, director of the company for more than 20 years, via Messenger, and asked her to please consider me among her guests to see the people of Camagüey in Madrid. The teacher kindly answered and I proudly went to see The Lake…, together with two friends who also benefited from the invitations.

The Camagüey Ballet tour began in Barcelona, from June 17th to July 2nd at the Apolo theater with presentations that kept the Catalan venue full. About the experience you can find many publications on social networks. Many are the opinions of the public that accompanied, for several weeks in their functions from Tuesday to Sunday, the group founded by Vicentina de la Torre in 1967.

The season began on July 5th at the EDP-Madrid theater, an arena belonging to Energías de Portugal, a multinational that continues to bet on culture. The performances, also from Tuesday to Sunday, managed to keep the EDP audience full and was the natural setting for many friends of the group to meet again, people who in some way have had a link with the company, such as the teacher Aurora Bosch who she took advantage of her time in Madrid to give classes and take rehearsals for the young cast that today defends the Camagüey Ballet label.

Madrid had a greater number of functions than Barcelona. In a truly epic season, the Camagüey Ballet concluded its presentations on August 6th in a theater like the EDP, located on the Gran Vía just a few steps from Plaza España, in the heart of Madrid, and where it competes with an extensive list of theaters, located on the same avenue, or in very close streets, where musical revues such as The Lion King or heavier caliber programs such as the summer season of the National Dance Company, directed by Joaquín de Luz, are presented in parallel formation that we had the opportunity to appreciate in Cuba, in the last edition of the Havana Ballet Festival, in a singular version of Carmen.

In the midst of this mare magnum of proposals, the Camagüey Ballet planted headquarters and summoned with its version of Swan Lake to the public that follows the programming of the classics in Madrid. It is one of the characteristics of an important area of ​​the public in Barcelona and in the Spanish capital: they are faithful spectators to the titles that preserve the classical tradition of ballet.

Regina Balaguer, interviewed live in one of the Spanish Television studios, explained how important it has been for the cast to be able to sustain such a long season, with a title as difficult as Swan Lake, in two cities with audiences knowledgeable and demanding.

The company had to synthesize Petipa-Thaikovsky’s work in two acts, so that it would adjust to the demands of the presentation circuit. Made by the maitre and regisseur Rafael Saladrigas, the camagüeyan version for Spain takes the main moments and makes an interesting synthesis of the famous story. The result was palpable, the audience applauded the cast and their daring first dancers, and I say daring because the entire time in the performances only two casts of performers alternated in the double role of Odette-Odile and Prince Siegfried.

Rosa María Rodríguez, Yanni García, Harold Rafael Báez and Shirley Suárez, had the great responsibility throughout the season of assuming the most technically demanding areas of Swan Lake, especially the famous pas de dux from the third act. We must also recognize the work of the youngsters who assumed the pas de trois in the first act, or the girls who danced the four and the two swans, moments that put the technical quality of any classical ballet performer to the test.

Getting to Spain with such young dancers to do Swan Lake is a real challenge. But as the popular saying goes, “he who does not risk does not succeed”. Regina Balaguer did it and achieved the great audacity of maintaining the presentations for weeks with a cast that grew in artistic stature and quality.

August 6th was the last performance of the Camagüey Ballet season, in the summer of 2023, with the staging of Swan Lake in Spain, Thaikovsky’s music wrapped our dancers on international stages. The Apolo and the EDP felt the strength and rigor of the Cuban school of ballet. This was verified by more than 20,000 spectators in Barcelona and Madrid, also confirmation of the experience in 2024, and the announcement of a tour of Spain with the Nutcracker ballet this Christmas.

I want to think that Vicentina de la Torre, Joaquín Banegas, Silvia Marichal, Fernando Alonso, four of its founding and development pillars, wherever they are now, must be extremely proud of what is happening with the company today.

The Camagüey Ballet still awaits other international commitments that can materialize very soon. For now, we wish its young cast and direction all the luck in the world and continued success.

(By Mercedes Borges Bartutis/Taken from Cubaescena)