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Salón Rosado opens at 9pm, but it really starts buzzing around 10:30. At that time, the mostly young audience (although, here and there, you’ll find some people in their 50s) begins creating a festive atmosphere. The dancing picks ups and, by 11, some people are dizzy from jumping up and down on the dance floor—and perhaps from one too many beers.
Looking around for opinions among the people there, we realize that most are Friday night regulars. Some (very few) are here for the first time. What is new, however, to all concerned is the show that is about to begin.
For us, though, they’re not exactly unknown because we’ve been with them for over three hours and have had time to discover who they are and where they come from. We’ve even watched their dress rehearsal. We too have been infected with the excitement that a first performance creates, and we’re eager for Crazy Havana to begin.
Back in the dressing rooms, young men and women, professionals and amateurs, dancers, singers, models and designers have built a very tight bond. The troupe is not big, but they’re a motley crew. Most of the performers come from WTF, made up of students from the University of Havana who are part of its booming amateur cultural movement.
WTF brings together students and recent graduates from different faculties who, besides studying for a degree in law or psychology, love to dance. The company members have devoted their free time for over four years, putting in a great deal of effort and sacrifice to WTF. And their endeavor has been more than fruitful.
The choreography of Crazy Havana includes hip-hop, break dance and pop music, escorted by acrobatics, stunts and even ballet. They may not be professionals, but they sure know what they’re doing.
Carlos Morales Márquez, who is WTF’s director and choreographer, as well artistic director of the Crazy Havana show, has been responsible for making the project become a reality. Antonio Blanco, better known as DJ Antonelli is the show’s general director and in charge of the music. He combines dance with fashion, represented here by the Contacto company. The daring wardrobe of both boys and girls was designed by Pedro Acanda and Lázaro Dubouchet, and the fashion show is definitely part of Crazy Havana.
Judging by the enthusiastic applause, the audience seems satisfied and enthusiastic about their first show tonight. Back in the dressing rooms, the artists embrace each other and celebrate. They know, however, that certain things need to be improved. This is one of the reasons why the show was taped, so that they can study the video and polish the rough spots. The other reason for the video is that they hope to be included in the catalogue of TURARTE, the Artistic Representation Agency for Tourism. After what we have witnessed tonight, our personal prediction and sincere wish is a long successful life to this young, unique Cuban company.
by Hannah Berkeley Cohen
The scene is El Salon Rosado, and the dancers onstage could easily be confused for characters in Hollywood dance?off movies like Step Up or Honey. With colorful bandanas tied across their arms and foreheads, the eager group of twentysomethings has long awaited this moment. An important moment for the University of Havana’s only hip?hop dance group, WTF is presenting for the first time at the “Crazy Habana” electronic music party.
Carlos Morales Marquez, 24, wicks away the nervous sweat from his brow. “This is just the start of something great,” said Marquez, who created the university?based group in 2009. “At first, we were just performing for our friends around campus, but soon thereafter, our expectations of ourselves rose, and we began auditioning for bigger and better gigs around Havana. We couldn’t be happier to be here.”
The lights dim, and the crowd becomes restless. A smoke machine starts spitting out white clouds, and the subwoofer begins to thump, as models strut across the rickety stage. The 45?minute show weaves modern dances, all choreographed and directed by Marquez, with a model/clothes designer interlude, and even a hip?hop dance that tells the story of a mental hospital, gone mental. “With only two months of planning, we were able to get everyone on the same page, and create this over?the?top show.
More than anything, it’s something that has never been done here in Cuba before.” Marquez emphasizes that even though the show has its flaws, and he’s more than open to critiques, he’s excited to have produced a first for his country. “Everyone expects that Cubans will be exclusively interested in traditional Cuban salsa and folk music; what about the youth? What about our electronic music? My group is trying to shed some light onto the current interests of modern day Cuban youth.”
The hip?hop and modern dance group calls itself “WTF” for the English expression
“What the fuck.” “Our hope is to provoke this same emotion; people are yearning for something new and different. When they see us, regardless of what language they speak, fingers crossed, their mouths will drop and they will simple say, “WTF!