Cuban ‘City in Motion’ Festival Keeps Dance Alive

Americas Now

City in Motion

Dancing, music and crowded streets are three essentials necessary for the annual festival called “City in Motion.” For almost 20 years, Havana, Cuba hosts one of the largest urban festivals of contemporary dance in the world.

For one week, each year, the historic Havana brings performers from around the globe to take part in the annual “City in Motion” festival. Dozens of local and international companies come to perform and this year, bringing in 13-hundred performers.

The event is connected to the Barcelona-based Dancing Cities Network, an international network of contemporary dance festivals geared towards promoting urban areas and the democratization of culture. “City in Motion” is the idea of Chilean-born, Cuban-based choreographer, Isabel Bustos. Bustos’ company, Retazos, was created in 1987 and faced difficult times during the 1990’s due to the Special Period, when economic adversity faced the country of Cuba. “At that moment, we were going through a special period in Cuba and this translated into long electric power cuts, a very difficult economic situation, and the theaters were closed,” Bustos said.

In order to keep her company from falling under, Bustos thought of bringing theater to where the people were. The idea for the festival was a basic means of survival for Retazos. “We had to make a decision on whether we continued to do something or we disappeared,” Bustos said. There was pushback to Bustos’ idea of bringing dancing to the streets. Yet, after a few years of persistence, the idea grabbed the attention of many others, creating the popular festival that it is today.

With performers ranging from amateurs to professionals, Bustos’ says it is a place where everyone has a chance to be recognized because it is about developing culture, not only within Cuba, but throughout the world. “It’s a unique opportunity which we Cubans have to interchange with people from other countries who come here to present their art in the streets, the very city we live,” Bustos said.
Bustos’ company, Retazos also works with the younger generation, teaching them the importance of dance. Bustos says it is important to interact with the young people because they are the future of Cuba.

By bringing dance to the younger generation, the passion of contemporary dance will grow and the festival will be there for years to come. Our correspondent Michael Voss, has more.

Cuban City in Motion Festival Keeps Dance Alive

Cuban City in Motion Festival Keeps Dance Alive

Dancing, music and crowded streets are three essentials necessary for the annual festival called “City in Motion.” For almost 20 years, Havana, Cuba hosts one of the largest urban festivals of contemporary dance in the world.