More than two dozen Cuban artists and groups will participate for two months in the “!Sí Cuba!” Festival to run from March 31st through June 16th in New York city, reported the New York Times.
The festival will include Cuban artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, photographers and writers who will showcase their work.
Groups from Cuba expected to perform include musical legends like the nearly century-old son ensemble Septeto Nacional.
The Cuban National Ballet, led by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, is among the participants, along with Muñequitos de Matanzas, in New York for the first time in over a decade, and Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, making its debut in the United States.
The New York Times reported, “It is one of the most significant indications that cultural relations between the United States and Cuba are thawing after nearly a decade in a deep freeze.”
Cuban rapper and poet Telmary Diaz will perform and the Havana Film Festival New York is expected to feature contemporary Cuban cinema.
Danza Contempornea de Cuba will be making their United States debuts.
Fourteen city arts organizations will be taking part. Music, film, dance, painting, theater, photography and literature are all included.
Karen Brooks Hopkins is the president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of the leading cultural entities in New York. She said, “We felt that this was the right time to do this, and New York the right place.¨
"There's optimism in the air about freeing up more interactions, which makes things feel very different than they did during the Bush administration and offers an opportunity for all of us to present work of a really high level in concentrated form."
Julia E. Sweig is the author of “Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know” and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sweig said, “Both governments, Raul Castro’s and Barack Obama’s, have clearly identified the cultural space as a safe space for them to pursue connections between the two countries, so this fits very well into that context.”
The idea for the festival began after several arts groups in New York scheduled different Cuban events. They eventually came together to promote one big festival. Up to 14 city arts organizations will be taking part.
Organizers say their aim is to showcase the rich cultural history of Cuba and build bridges between American and Cuban artists.