For two weeks this spring, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will present Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World, a festival celebrating the artistic richness that has emerged from this “island archipelago in the sun.” This unprecedented gathering of Cuban and Cuban American artists represents some of the world’s greatest from the island and the Diaspora. Curated by the same Kennedy Center team responsible for past international festivals, including the recent IRELAND 100, IBERIAN SUITE, China, ARABESQUE, and maximum INDIA, Artes de Cuba highlights the profound artistic breadth and cultural influence of the island nation.
“Cuba is an exuberant mix of cultures-African, European, Caribbean, North and South American-that has shaped Cuban art for half a millennium,” said curator Alicia Adams, Vice President of International Programming and Dance at the Kennedy Center. “I am excited for Kennedy Center audiences to surround themselves with the abundant treasures of one of the most dynamic cultures in the world.”
Featuring some of Cuba’s finest artists and leading Cuban American creators, Artes de Cuba will inspire with more than 50 events over two weeks, encompassing the breadth and vibrancy of the island nation’s culture. In programming that spans music, dance, theater, film, fashion, and design, select highlights include:
- The music of Cuba, beginning with Artes de Cuba Opening Festivities, features singer Omara Portuondo, the grande dame of Cuban music and face of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. From traditional danzons to classical master works and current island beats, additional music highlights include Los Van Van, the most recognized musical group in Cuba today; New York based Afro-Cuban jazz artist Yosvany Terry; and Miami-based, genre-defying Aymée Nuviola.
- The movement of Cuba includes the return of famed prima ballerina Alicia Alonsoand her Ballet Nacional de Cuba, in programs marking the 40th anniversary of the company’s historic first tour to the U.S., which began at the Kennedy Center.
- The theater of Cuba features the acclaimed Teatro el Público and the award-winning Argos Teatro in stimulating Spanish-language productions.
- Leading Cuban and Cuban American visual artists and designers whose work defines the Cuban and international art scenes will offer a glimpse into the diverse visual mosaic that is at the heart of Cuban life. Artes de Cuba features installations by master painter and sculptor Manuel Mendive; painter, sculptor, and illustrator Roberto Fabelo; José Parlá, a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been commissioned by institutions around the world; and Celia Ledón, the fashion-forward, found-art costume designer.
- In partnership with New York’s American Museum of Natural History, Artes de Cuba will include select displays from ¡Cuba!, the multimedia installation that explores the rich biodiversity and cultural history of the island nation.
- A spotlight on Cuba’s rich cinematic legacy with a retrospective marking the 40th anniversary of the influential Havana Film Festival. Ivan Giroud, president of the Havana Film Festival, will curate and present six films highlighting the history of Cuban and Latin American cinema.
Artes de Cuba will extend beyond the Center’s performance spaces, and spill out into its halls, terraces, and to the Millennium Stage, where Cuban, Cuban American, and local artists from Washington, D.C. will be showcased. These free Millennium Stage performances will be streamed, as they are 365 days a year, on the Kennedy Center website and via Facebook. The festival will also include a free Family Day on Saturday, May 12 with activities, classes, and performances for the entire family.
“Artes de Cuba continues the Kennedy Center’s longstanding commitment to presenting the foremost International Artists on our stages,” said Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. “Cuba is a cultural powerhouse, and to present such a diverse slate of Cuban and Cuban American artists all in a two-week span is simply unprecedented. We welcome audiences from across the Washington, D.C. region and beyond to come together and learn about the Cuban people through an incredibly rich, vibrant festival.” Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World extends the Kennedy Center’s long history of presenting international festivals. Since opening its doors as the nation’s performing arts center in 1971, the Center has presented more than 20 such festivals which have explored countries and regions throughout Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Central and South America. Over the decades, millions of visitors have attended these festivals to experience and explore the richness and beauty of global arts and cultures.
Tickets for all paid Artes de Cuba events will go on sale to Kennedy Center Members today, December 6, and to the general public tomorrow, Thursday, December 7. A listing of festival programming can be found on the Kennedy Center website.