Utah’s Ballet West invited to perform in Cuba

Principal dancer Beckanne Sisk dances in George Balanchine’s "Rubies," which will be performed in Cuba. Photo Courtesy: Ballet West/Luke Isley

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 28, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake City-based dance company Ballet West has been invited to perform in Havana, Cuba, this fall.

The International Ballet Festival of Havana, one of the oldest events in the world of dance, has invited Ballet West to perform at its gala, on Nov. 6, said company spokesman Joshua Jones in a news release.

Ballet West will perform resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s “Presto,” as well as the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s “Rubies.” It will be the first time “Rubies” has been performed in Cuba.

“This is a truly wonderful and exciting honor for Ballet West,” said CEO and artistic director Adam Sklute. “In spite of the commercial and economic embargo by the United States, the arts, and in particular, ballet continued to thrive in Cuba. In this vibrant country, ballet training and dancers are legendary in the world of dance. Politicians speak of increased trading of commodities between our countries. It is my opinion that the sharing of our art forms will lead to a better understanding of each other’s culture and people, and to a healthier long-term relationship.”

Nicolo Fonte’s “Presto,” a quartet he created for the company in 2012, will feature principal dancer Katherine Lawrence, first soloists Jacqueline Straughan and Adrian Fry, and soloist Alexander MacFarlan. George Balanchine’s “Rubies” is part of a three-act program, “Jewels,” he created in 1967. The pas de deux will be danced by principal dancers Beckanne Sisk and Christopher Ruud, giving them the honor of becoming the first dancers to perform this legendary work in Cuba.

Every female Ballet West dancer has agreed to donate several pairs of their pointe shoes to the National Ballet of Cuba, to be presented to them on the night of the performance. “Pointe shoes are incredibly difficult to obtain in Cuba,” said Sklute. “We hope this gift can be useful to their amazing dancers.”

The International Ballet Festival of Havana is organized by the National Ballet of Cuba on a bi-annual basis. Ballet West joins companies that have performed at the festival in the past, including London Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

The cost of the tour has been underwritten by the Quinney and Lawson families, longtime supporters of Ballet West.

“The families and their foundations believe this is an historic occasion and moment for Ballet West and are honored to help make this opportunity a significant event for the ballet company,” said Shar Quinney, a representative for the families. “Jessie Eccles Quinney and her daughter Janet Quinney Lawson and daughter-in-law Gene Quinney were devoted supporters of Ballet West and were always delighted to be able to assist in the flourishing of the arts in the state of Utah. It is with great pleasure that a new generation continues their legacy.”


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