Omara Portuondo received a standing ovation during the Artes de CubaFestival in Washington. Photo: Kennedy Center

The Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World Festival has been taking place in the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, since early May and is running through June 3.

According to Cuba’s Deputy Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, speaking in Havana, the Ministry and Kennedy Center began working on the event in December 2017, while the curatorship fell to Alicia Adams, the Center’s Vice President of International Programming and Dance.

The Festival includes a total of 50 events featuring some 400 Cuban artists, 200 of whom live on the island and had to travel to Mexico to get their visas, following staff cuts at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The inauguration of the Festival (May 8) in the Eisenhower Theater was presided by Omara Portuondo, Diva of the Buenavista Social Club, pianists

Aldo López-Gavilán and Jorge Luis Pacheco, the Miguel Faílde Orchestra and vocalist Aymée Nuviola.

Also representing Cuba’s strong musical movement are young jazz musicians Yissy and her Bandancha; Zule Guerra; Quinteto Blues de La Habana; the López-Nussa family; Havana’s LyceumMozartiano Orchestra; pianist Ulises Hernández; hip hop artists La Reyna and La Real; Pablo and Haydée Milanés; as well as legendary salsa group Los Van Van.

Cuba’s strong musical movement is being represented in the U.S. capital by young jazz musicians such as Yissy and her Bandancha. Photo: Kennedy Center

Likewise, the public can appreciate some of the very best of Cuban cinema throughout the ages with classics like Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s (Titón) 1968 film Memorias del subdesarrollo; Lucía (1968), by Humberto Solás; Pastor Vega’s Retrato de Teresa (1979); or Fresa y chocolate (1993) directed by Titón and Juan Carlos Tabío. Meanwhile Cuban performing arts are being represented by Teatro El Público, directed by National Prize for Theater winner Carlos Díaz, with Las amargaslágrimas de Petra Von Kant.

Similarly, dance, another emblematic expression of Cuban culture, is on display in all its forms with the Danza Malpaso company presenting contemporary works; and traditional flamenco with a Cuban twist, by the Irene Rodríguez dance company, while the closing of the Festival has been reserved for the National Ballet of Cuba.
From the Island to the World in Washington DC’s Kennedy Center: a festival celebrating the strength and richness of Cuban arts.