Havana was again a place of convergence for our Iberian traditions, when the main artistic venues in the oldest part of the city welcomed...
Havana was again a place of convergence for our Iberian traditions, when the main artistic venues in the oldest part of the city welcomed the activities of the 24th Festival La Huella de España (Footprints of Spain), organized by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso. It denotes a bridge between Cuban and Spanish cultures, this latter being an indispensable component of the symbiosis of our roots.
On this occasion in which the celebrations were dedicated to the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, during eight days the festival combined, in a masterful way, different artistic manifestations to show the deep artistic and fraternal bonds that unite us with our ancestors from the Old Continent.
Closing an event that recalls one of the ancestral features of our roots could not be expected to be more spectacular than it was.
Dressed to the nines, the García Lorca Hall at the Gran Teatro de La Habana (Havana Grand Theater) welcomed artists from several artistic manifestations to conclude this year’s La Huella. The visual arts were also present, as in the lobby was an exhibition of photos of Alicia Alonso on stage performing the main classical Spanish roles she interpreted throughout her brilliant career as a ballerina.
Spanish troubadour Andrés Suárez offered to the audience two songs from his most recent disk, which he dedicated to Alicia. “I thank those who invited me to this embrace that unites our two countries and thus to be able to also leave my humble footprint,” said the young Galician singer-songwriter on the stage of the “Colossus of Prado” (referring to the Gran Teatro de La Habana).
Operas and zarzuelas [traditional Spanish operettas] were also performed that night, where soprano Johana Simón interpreted the classic “Cecilia Valdés” overture, with a masterful combination of music and dramatic acting.
A special moment of the night was the presentation by the great Omara Portuondo, who sang “Andalucía” and “Dos Gardenias,” in both songs coupling her voice to the characteristic ups and downs of flamenco musical interpretation. The diva of the Buena Vista Social Club undoubtedly surprises with that clarity and interpretative capacity she has, amply demonstrated when, just about taking her leave from the stage of Lorca Hall, she sang the classic “20 años” (20 years) with Reynier Mariño, with just a guitar and no microphone.
Of course, dance could not be absent. Irene Rodriguez’s still young flamenco company brought a tremendous display of talent and technique to the stage with a world premiere.
La muerte fue en Granada (Death was in Granada) choreographically recalls the tragic death of Spanish writer Federico García Lorca. It was a display of dancing and good taste by the company’s young ballerinas, who radiated force and dramatic quality, combining not only flamenco but also contemporary and classic techniques, and making a brimming threesome of talent and virtuosity.
The Cuban National Ballet (BNC for its Spanish acronym) was also present at the party and closed the celebrations with a special presentation of Preciosa y el aire (Precious and the Wind), with a choreography by Alicia Alonso and based on Lorca’s poem by the same name. It was a surprise to many that dancer Irene Rodríguez herself opened in the main role, with BNC soloist Alejandro Silva. Both were accompanied by nine youths from the prestigious company’s corps de ballet.
Irene Rodríguez completely surprised many by showing her aptitudes not only for flamenco, but also for classic dance, dominating turns and jumps but, above all, with a face reflecting now cunning, now disgust and pain, and embroidering the character with incredible verisimilitude.
What to say about young Silva… He managed to rise to the occasion as a partenaire, guiding his partner on stage and showing strong technical gifts with high jumps and precise pirouettes, everything combined with the rage and interpretive force that his character demands.
To conclude, the festival flag was given to the Centro Balear de La Habana (Havana Balearic Center), because next year La Huella de España, already twenty-five years old, will be dedicated to the Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands.
Translated by Roberto Espí Valero
Revised by Susana Hurlich