After a quarter century of existence of the Ballet Español de Cuba (Cuban Spanish Ballet), Cubanow talked with Eduardo Veitía, first dancer, choreographer and general director of the Company.
It can’t be easy to maintain a dance company for 25 years in a continuous way. The work to carry on the Ballet Español de Cuba (Cuban Spanish Ballet) and with it a dance style like the Spanish dances, thousands of miles away from the Motherland has been intense and hard.
First dancer, choreographer and general director of the Ballet Español de Cuba (Cuban Spanish Ballet), Eduardo Veitía, accepted the challenge when Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso gave him the responsibility of directing the first Conjunto de Danzas Españolas de La Habana, the current company’s direct predecessor, and of taking Spanish roots to all the performing arts to present them both at home and abroad.
After a quarter century of existence of the company, Cubanow talked with Veitía about his career and Ballet Español de Cuba’s current plans.
When does Eduardo Veitía feel that dance is his life?
Although I liked it from childhood and always danced in school activities, it wasn’t until I finished high school that I decided that my life was dancing. Despite that many, like my dad, told me that I was crazy to do it and not chose a university career, what I longed for was to dance.
So I looked for the way to take classes and learn to dance… I took classes at the Ballet de la Television Cubana and had the luck to find out that the ballet school was giving auditions for young dancers. Then I began at the school at L and 19th streets until I graduated from ENA (National School of Arts). This way, little by little, my dream of being a dancer, in the ranks of the Cuban National Ballet was coming true.
How much did having studied classical ballet and being under Alicia Alonso\'s orders influence your career, not only as a choreographer but also in the way of directing the Ballet Español de Cuba?
I learned a lot because I entered the ballet at a moment when there was lots of creation and dissimilar styles that they taught us and we learned. So in addition to classical, I learned to dance contemporary style and some flamenco styles with drama, force and blood.
Besides, I reached maturity as an artist and learned, above all, how a company works and all the logistics and preparation it takes. I was simply interested and lived for it, all the time at the theater, rehearsing and learning as much as possible.
And that’s how the whole initiative of creating and directing the ensemble of Spanish dances begins, with the initial work of introducing the dances and culture into the existing genres on stage at that time: opera and ballet. And, at the same time, we began to work as a group giving our own concerts.
How was it studying at the Gran Escuela Profesional de Danza (Greater Professional School of Dance) in Spain?
In fact until that moment our preparation in Spanish dances was very empirical, but we didn\'t have the teaching of a professional school with the refinement, the methodology and the technique that a dance conservatory like this has. I got there and auditioned in order to be placed in one of the levels they grant. Also, I was able to verify the disciplinary rigor they have and how difficult I found some techniques they began to teach me and to which I had to devote all my energy, to take advantage of the scholarship and be able to go way beyond myself.
What fulfills Eduardo Veitía most - to dance, to choreograph or to see the younger ones develop?
It could be said I have in some form coincidently lived these three things. My aspirations were always to dance… Salvador Fernández is the one who introduces me to the world of choreography and when the dance ensemble emerges I begin to do it. I was just doing something I had never studied and that later I had to improve and deepen.
From the beginning, I also came up against teaching because many of my co-dancers didn\'t come from professional schools and I had to teach the knowledge I acquired at ENA to present a class of ballet.
Now that I’ve stopped dancing, it’s my turn to see the company from another perspective. Before, I missed many things, for example, seeing the development and the technical maturity of a young dancer. So, in a general way, all these things were important for me as an artist and as a person.
After these 25 years, how would you define the Ballet Español de Cuba, both aesthetically and technically?
I believe there are still many things we can improve; however, the aesthetic image the ballet is projecting at the moment is that of maturity and knowledge in what it does. The teaching work has contributed to the maturity of this image because presenting the company’s work from childhood is very important.
How much of Cuban dance is there in the dances and choreographies of the Ballet Español de Cuba?
Cuban dance is present all the time, for example, in the way the girls dance, with that sensuality, and in the force the men project on stage. Definitively, it is in our blood due to the mixture our ancestors transmitted to us.
Translated by Roberto Espí Valero
Revised by CF Ray