Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso, Havana
With marble muses and winged angels on the baroque facade, the grande dame of Havana’s colonial-era theatres dominates this a part of the previous city. Inside, Anna Pavlova and Sarah Bernhardt as soon as trod the boards, and it was lavishly restored between 2013 and 2015. The 1,000+ seat auditorium – beneath a half-tonne chandelier – hosts dance and theatre occasions, and witnessed President Obama’s epic speech to Cubans in 2016. Don’t miss classical ballet choreographed by Cuba Nationwide Ballet’s 97-year-old prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonso, or performances by Carlos Acosta’s new Acosta Danza. Japan’s avant garde Karas dance firm wowed audiences in spring 2018. Examine billboards, too, for acclaimed Cuba troupe appearances by Danza Contemporánea.• Tickets round £23. Purchase in individual on the field workplace (Tue-Solar 9am-5pm, field workplace reopens at 6pm for last-minute tickets on day of efficiency). Guided excursions of the theatre (day by day) £3.80. Havana’s biennial ballet competition runs 28 October-6 November, Paseo de Martí, +53 7861 3077, no web site
Callejón de Hamel, Havana

Crowds watching a efficiency in Callejón de Hamel. {Photograph}: Alamy
Each Sunday at midday, a small alley in Centro Havana thunders into life with rumba, a rhythmic music and dance originating within the dockside houses of enslaved Africans in Matanzas and Havana. Fusing Afro-Cuban conga drums (tumbadora), claves (picket percussion sticks) guagua (a drum, also referred to as a catá) and European call-and-response tune, the fizzing noon occasion is a should. Hamel Alley is filled with murals and sculptures by Salvador González Escalona depicting rituals of African orishas (saints) of Santería: a Catholicism-fused-with-Yoruba faith.• Free however donations welcome. Callejón de Hamel, between Calle Espada and Calle Aramburu, Centro Habana. Havana’s Rhythm and Dance Competition runs from 4-10 March 2019
Streets of Previous Havana

Artists participate in 2016’s Previous Havana: Metropolis in Motion Competition. {Photograph}: Alamy
Cobbled plazas, distressed partitions and shaded courtyards are the stage for a few of Cuba’s extra curious dance performances. The annual Previous Havana: Metropolis in Motion competition sees a whole bunch carry out up to date and folks dances, expert maypole strikes, youngsters’s parades, costumed timba turns, in addition to the assured strides of dancers on stilts (Los Gigantes). Each few years (lack of funding and pure disasters have prevented it being each two), the Havana Biennial (Bienal de la Habana) artwork honest options visible hits: in 2012, Conga Irreversible noticed arts collective Los Carpinteros reverse the colorful Cuban conga, with dancers and musicians wearing black, shifting backwards, taking part in music again to entrance, and singing lyrics in reverse.• Previous Havana: Metropolis in Motion (Habana Vieja: Ciudad en Movimiento), 3-9 April 2019. Bienal de la Habana 12 April-12 Might 2019
Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana

{Photograph}: Matthew Pickles
Brooklyn meets Berlin in Havana’s cultural powerhouse, which was developed out of an previous peanut oil manufacturing facility and hitched to the sting of the town’s artwork district. Opened in 2014, the Cuban Artwork Manufacturing unit, brainchild of musician X Alfonso, displays avant-garde images and murals, and has auditoriums, bars, a patio, a cigar nook and a restaurant. It attracts multi-generational crowds, travellers, and Cuban farándula (celebrities) to its motion pictures, dwell music, dance and theatre – entertaining punters for simply the £1.50 entry. For the reason that venue opened, there was flamenco from Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, tango, and a contemporary dance interpretation set to Ravel’s Bolero by a trio of Cuban troupes (Acosta Danza, Danza-Teatro Retazos, and DanzaAbierta), together with lessons from Cuban professionals in capoeira, Afrobeat, and up to date dance.• Calle 26 e/ 11 and 13 streets, Vedado, on Fb
Jardines del 1830, Havana
Havana’s sultriest salsa venue is a patio on the seafront between a roadside restaurant and the kooky Japanese Gardens. It’s Gaudí meets 18th-century shellcraft – with coral- and shell-encrusted caves – and a tiny Moorish mosque. Arrive at weekends for spellbinding dwell bands, comparable to Habana d’Primera taking part in timba – salsa mixing in hip-hop, disco, nueva trova and jazz – beneath the celebs. Drinks from a small bar assist loosen toes. There’s no scarcity of dancing companions, and for solo ladies the scene is much less intense than in different haunts, comparable to La Gruta (Avenida 23, in the identical district).• Admission from £7.50 (relying on band); Malecón, nook of Calle 20, Vedado, +53 7838 3090; from 10pm
Casa de la Trova, Santiago de Cuba

Musician’s acting at Casa de la Trova. {Photograph}: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket through Getty Photos
The success of Buena Vista Social Membership (began in 1996) helped to revive the careers of quite a lot of Cuban crooners and launched Compay Segundo’s tune Chan Chan into the dwelling rooms of tens of millions. This son music (predecessor to trendy salsa) is rooted in colonial Spain and slave-era Africa, combining devices of Africa such because the bongo and claves with Spanish tune, and the tres, a three-string guitar from Spain. Stroll into the balconied 19th-century Casa de la Trova’s street-level salon to groove to old-timers. Matinees are much less intense affairs than night grand-salon stormers (and a kinder setting for self-conscious overseas dancers). Examine the billboard exterior for bands. Los Jubilados are a favorite.• Heredia 206 between San Felíx and San Pedro streets, Santiago, +53 2265 2689. Matinee from 1pm, evenings 6pm-1am, £3.80, promociones.egrem.co.cu. Look out for Competition Internacional Matamoros Son (2019 dates tbc) and make contact with cultural company Paradiso (Heredia Avenue 302 between Carnicería and Calvario streets) for particulars, +53 2262 0214
Tumba Francesa in Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba avenue parade. {Photograph}: Alamy
After the slave-led insurrection in Haiti in 1791, hundreds of French espresso planters fled to japanese Cuba with their slaves. Together with the fragrant bean, and French china, they introduced with them a style for lengthy frocks and genteel ballroom steps. In japanese Cuba this mixed-up music and dance performs out as a court docket dance set to African devices and rhythm. Tumba Francesa survives in three locations in Cuba however it’s most accessible to travellers in Santiago. Watch it in a city-centre house the place dancers in pagoda sleeves and flouncy robes promenade to tunes that includes three giant tambores (drums).• Tumba Francesa, Calle Carnicería 268 between Trinidad and Habana streets (no telephone). 12 months-round Tuesdays and Thursdays follow nights at 9pm, are open to guests. Donations welcome. Examine the town’s cultural calendar for Tumba Francesa performances
Streets of Santiago de Cuba

Carnival dancers in Santiago de Cuba. {Photograph}: Alamy
Cuba’s African soul sparks up throughout summer time carnivals when hundreds, led by historic mutual help societies, come collectively to arrollar (do the conga) by the tight streets of this sweaty metropolis. A Chinese language cornet, with its penetrative wail, hails the conga and unleashes a monumental percussion fest: marchers hit car-brake drums, conga drums and cylindrical and Franco-Haitian drums in a relentless percussive hymn as a river of grooving Santigueros flows by the town. To get swept alongside, go to Santiago in early July and some days earlier than carnival (2019 dates 18-27 July). Watch for night comparsas – choreographed costume parades accompanied by music – the place as much as 180 individuals in a single cabildo (society) participate. For those who spot posters for a theatre or avenue efficiency by stellar folkloric ballet group Cutumba, change your plans pronto.• Competition del Caribe 2-9 July 2019, casadelcaribe.cult.cu, Santiago de Cuba occasions on-line (Spanish solely)
Nengón and Kiribá, japanese Cuba

Musical group performing close to El Güirito, japanese Cuba. {Photograph}: Alamy
The village of El Güirito shot to fame earlier this 12 months when it appeared on Cuba’s model of Strictly Come Dancing: Bailando en Cuba. The small group, exterior Cuba’s authentic 16th-century capital, Baracoa, resurrects the easy musical rhythms of nengón and kiribá, which predate son. Sluggish nengón is danced in a circle; kiribá is a little bit sooner and extra freestyle. The enchantment of El Güirito’s melody making is its snapshot of a 19th-century nation dance with ladies in full skirts and males in conventional Cuban guayabera shirts accompanied by musicians in a country village setting. A feast of pre-Columbian Taíno dishes comparable to bacán – a tamale of crab meat, mashed banana, annatto and coconut milk – and spit-roast pork fuels the occasion.• Dances with feasts might be organised by guests with three days’ discover. Ask your B&B to contact Nancy Paz Pupo, Filial de la Música Baracoa, +53 5247 0279. It prices £11.50pp together with meals for lunch and a morning’s competition; minimal two individuals. A return taxi from Baracoa prices from £15
Streets of Matanzas

Locals dance on the road in Matanzas {Photograph}: Alamy
Matanzas, on the north coast, powered Cuba’s sugar growth, utilizing slaves from Nigeria and Benin. The town’s music and dance replicate this deep African coronary heart however Matanzas is commonly ignored by travellers, who bypass it on the best way to Varadero seashore. Get your hands on neighbourhood rumba, Callejón de Tradiciones – a avenue framed by vibrant Yoruba sculpture – cultural occasions run by Venture AfroAtenas, and the town’s August Timbalaye rumba competition. Hunt down Matanzas’ new collective, El Almacén, a part of the Callejón de Tradiciones venture. El Almacén tracks down and information indie Afro-Cuban folks musicians. Its Sendero Music label launched the award-winning Transmisión en la Eritá Meta, that includes one of many oldest units of sacred batá drums in Matanzas. Pay attention out for the rumble of rumba within the Marina neighbourhood, simply north-east of central Parque de la Libertad, and shimmy right down to an impromptu rumba avenue occasion.• Venture AfroAtenas , San Ignacio Avenue between San Francisco and San Juan Bautista streets, organises music occasions, on the second and fourth weekends of the month. AfroAtenas will take part within the Bienal de la Habana artwork honest (see above) as, for the primary time, occasions might be held in Matanzas and different cities exterior Havana
The movie of Carlos Acosta’s Cuban-rags-to-Royal-Ballet story, Yuli, might be screened on 14 December on the Worldwide Competition of New Latin American Cinema in Havana (6-18 December)
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