International Dance Day is the perfect time to reflect on how dance can bring together people. Verb Ballets and ProDanza have been working together for the past four years and it’s still one of the few exchanges that takes place between both Cuba and the U.S. This year was the second time Verb Ballets has traveled to Cuba and the partnership was covered by On Cuba News, WKYC, Havana Times, The Plain Dealer and The Akron Beacon Journal. The cultural exchange has brought a deeper understanding of dance as a way to bring people together.
This year, we mounted the largest endeavor thus far. Ms. Alonso staged the ballet on the two companies in different countries. Both companies came together in Cuba with four days to produce the full length, Romeo and Juliet. Together, as The Cleveland Havana Ballet Project, the companies performed before thousands at The Teatro Nacional de Cuba. It was with great pride that the roles of Romeo and Juliet were danced by Verb Ballets dancers, Lieneke Matte and Ben Shepard.
This project could not have been possible without the support of the Cleveland Foundation. It took the tremendous work of Laura Alonso, Dr. Margaret Carlson, Richard Dickinson, the dancers of Verb Ballets and ProDanza, Board of Directors, staff, Dan Rutherford and his agency Global Relations for this year’s partnership to come together. We look forward to the next phase of possibilities that lie ahead for The Cleveland Havana Ballet Project.