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Around 1,500 participants from almost 20 countries, including Cuba, exhibited their art in this event, which since it made its debut in 1996, has attracted prestigious dance companies and soloists from just about everywhere in the world to express themselves in intimate connection with a privileged architectural and cultural environment. Organized by Danza Teatro Retazos, the dance company directed by the indefatigable dancer, choreographer and National Dance Prizewinner 2012, Isabel Bustos, the uniqueness of the event lies not only in watching how a young beautiful dancer hanging from the grating on a window or a well-built male dancer fitting gracefully in a narrow space become a regular part of the city landscape, but the wholehearted interest of an audience that endorses Bustos’ motto—putting aside the trained body to freely express, through it, feelings and emotions.
The festivity, which opened on April 10 by Danza Teatro Retazos with the beautiful piece Un corazón que palpita, dedicated to Chilean folklorist Violeta Parra, “Street Dancing,” as it is popularly known, gathered several dance troupes and soloists in Havana. Some dancers were repeating their visit, while for others this was their first experience, attracted by the international impact of the event. Among the latter was the folk dance group from Nilüfer, Turkey, which immediately caught the public’s attention, not only for the joy, vigor and color of their dances, but also for the gypsy amulets they distributed among audiences. In Cuba, a “gypsy curse” is synonymous to the worst of punishments. So the reader may imagine how much in demand were these charms to ward off evil.
Along with the performances, ten workshops, several master classes and meetings between dancers, choreographers and art critics. The most popular workshop was Danza Lúdica, or Playful Dance, organized by Mexican psychologist and professor Rosana Padilla, who involved a group of restless Cuban children in dance through play. Of a very different nature was Dance Space, by dancers from the Japanese Tetsuro Fukuhara Company, who presented the principles of Butoh, obviously related to the Eastern view of the world.
The hectic days of City in Motion closed on Sunday 14 with a gala performance at the Wooden Street, facing the majestic Palace of the Captains General. Given the two-minute time limit for each presentation, audiences were able to enjoy a representative mosaic of what had occurred over the five days of the festival—performances by Compañía Danza del Agua and Grupo MR09 en Movimiento from Mexico; Brazilian soloist Gabi Velasco; La Chancha Teatro from Argentina; Danza Teatro M.A.R. from Chile; members of the Basque company Organik; the much applauded Nilüfer Folk Dance Group from Turkey; and Ballet Contemporáneo Endedans, Danza Fragmentada, Danza Teatro Retazos, Danza del Alma and Ballet Folklórico de Camagüey, all from Cuba.
But already Habaneros are dreaming of next April 2014, when the Gigantería stilt walkers lead them from street to street, plaza to plaza, museum to museum, to discover, fascinated, the wonders of a city in motion. April 2013