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Cuba's Havana Rakatan/Ballet Rakatan Makes U.S. Debut, Feb 18

by Helene Davis
February 8, 2015
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
212.247.0430
Opening Production of New York City Center's
A Bailar: Dance at the Center Festival
The acclaimed Cuban dance company Ballet Rakatan will make its U.S. debut at New York City Center, February 18 – 22, presenting "Havana Rakatan," a dazzling mix of salsa, mambo, jazz, bolero, son, cha-cha-cha and rumba, accompanied by the eight-piece Cuban son band Turquino, which will perform live onstage.

"Havana Rakatan" is a high-energy slice of Havana culture that charts the evolution of Cuban music and dance over the country's 500-year history, from the West African rhythms brought by slaves beginning in the mid-16th century, to the jazz, mambo and bolero of the 1940s, the rumba and cha-cha of the 1970s, and the salsa and son of modern-day Havana. Today's son music, a combination of elements of Spanish guitar and song with African rhythms and percussion, is the heart of modern music and dance.

Ballet Rakatan is one of Cuba's most successful cultural exports. The company was founded by dancer-turned-choreographer Nilda Guerra in 2001, when she was just 24. "Havana Rakatan" made its hugely successful debut in 2007 at the Peacock Theatre in London and has since toured all over the world. Nilda Guerra directs a versatile company of dancers, most of whom are graduates of the renowned Escuela Nacional de Arte de la Habana, which combines contemporary dance training with Cuban dance and Latin styles.

"Havana Rakatan" is the opening presentation of City Center's A Bailar: Dance at the Center Latin dance festival, running February 18 – March 7. (Schedule below). The Festival continues with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's m¡longa, which captures the sultry world of Buenos Aires tango. Voces, Suite Flamenca, a new work from flamenco superstar Sara Baras, closes A Bailar. The Festival's many free pre-show events include dance lessons and discussion panels that will explore Latin culture through a variety of lenses.

Havana Rakatan is presented by New York City Center in association with Sadler's Wells and Congas Productions.

New York City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city since 1943. It was Manhattan's first performing arts center, dedicated by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia with a mission to make the best in music, theater and dance accessible to all audiences. Today, City Center is home to many distinguished companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, City Center's Principal Dance Company, as well as Manhattan Theatre Club; a roster of renowned national and international visiting artists; and its own critically acclaimed and popular programs. The Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series has been hailed as "one of the very best reasons to be alive in New York." In summer 2013, City Center launched Encores! Off-Center, a new series featuring landmark Off-Broadway musicals filtered through the lens of today's most innovative artists. Dance has been integral to the theater's mission from the start, and dance programs, including the annual Fall for Dance Festival, remain central to City Center's identity. Vital partnerships with arts organizations including Jazz at Lincoln Center and London's Sadler's Wells Theatre enhance City Center's programmatic offerings. City Center is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to New York City students and teachers with programs such as Encores! In Schools and the Young People's Dance Series. Special workshops cater to families, seniors, and other groups, while events such as the Fall for Dance DanceTalk series offer learning opportunities for the general public. In October 2011, City Center completed an extensive renovation project to revitalize and modernize its historic theater.

"Havana Rakatan" will play seven performances, February 18-22, as follows: Wednesday, February 18 and Thursday, February 19 at 7:30 pm; Friday, February 20 at 8 pm; Saturday, February 21 at 2 and 8 pm; and Sunday, February 22 at 2 and 7 pm.

m¡longa will play four performances, February 26 – March 22, as follows: Thursday, February 26, Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28 at 8 pm; and Sunday, March 1, at 2 pm.

Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras will play four performances, March 4-7, as follows: Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 pm; Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 at 8 pm.

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased online at www.NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix® at (212) 581-1212, or at the City Center Box Office at 131 W. 55th St. (between 6th & 7th Aves). For more information, please visit www.NYCityCenter.org.

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