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50th Anniversary of the Camagüey Ballet: excellent work with the effort of many people

Published: 2017.12.06 - 18:13:42   /  /  Miguel Darío García Porto  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

50th Anniversary of the Camagüey Ballet: excellent work with the effort of many peopleThe Camagüey Ballet celebrates its half century of existence today. The road has been difficult, the hard work, and in the same way, the effort of many people who have contributed to the success of this group, even on the international stages.

On December 1, 1967 this classic dance ensemble was founded, and is defended and protected by its members, who have felt and feel this magnificent work as their own.

The visionary of the project was the unforgettable Vicentina de la Torre. This Camagüeyan woman began that dream at the end of the 60s and added all her efforts to make a company like this flourish in the interior of the country. Some called her an idealist and naive, but her tenacity proved that it was possible and for two years, she managed the company.

Maître Joaquín Banegas succeeded her in the direction of the Camagüey Ballet from 1969 to 1973, and his pedagogical work - together with his wife the Puerto Rican dancer Silvia Marichal - consolidated the company.

In that period, the group defined its professional stature, enriched the training of its new members and developed an interesting choreographic repertoire, especially the one that emerged from the talent of young creators such as Gustavo Herrera and Iván Tenorio, who stimulated and gave full support to the ensemble.

However, the working conditions were not as required and in 1973, the maestro Vanegas decided to quit the project, and the Camagüey Ballet was without direction for some time.

In 1975, the maestro Fernando Alonso, who is considered to be the father of the Cuban School of Ballet, would assume the direction. At first, Alonso would be described as crazy and then a genius. Under his aegis, the company would undergo a metamorphosis to grow professionally and venture into the international scene with great successes.

Fernando directed the Camagüey Ballet for 17 years in which he achieved the current headquarters: the beautiful and spacious estate where the group has been ever since. In addition, within his contributions he founded a ballet shoe factory and a decoration workshop. Under his management the style was outlined, the company was structured and the repertoire was expanded. He resized the company and his staging of the classics attracted the attention of Cuban and foreign professionals.

Likewise, he won the respect of the regional authorities and attracted a series of maestros, choreographers and dancers who extolled Cuban culture, as he unveiled the company on the international scene in countries such as Russia, Romania, Germany, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, Greece, Mexico, Peru, Panama and Argentina.

The list of great dancers trained in the Camagüey Ballet is vast, as well as the choreographers who developed much of their work in their venues: just to mention some worth citing Gustavo Herrera, Ivan Tenorio, Jorge Lefebre, Francisco Lam, José Antonio Chávez and Lázaro Martínez. The list is completed with first figures such as Aida Villoch, Bárbara García, Celia Rosales, Laura Urgellés, Roberto Machado, Guillermo Leyva, among many other performers who held a rich period of this group.

After the maestro Fernando Alonso, the direction of the Camagüey Ballet was assumed by Jorge Rodríguez Vede for four years and then he was succeeded by the maître Regina Balaguer, who runs the company until today and being one of the former dancers has insisted on preserving the legacy of its maestros.

After five decades of being founded, the Camagüey Ballet aspires to stay in constant artistic search and to work, to work hard, to maintain that respect so well earned and that its art continues to figure as one of the most relevant successes of our culture.

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