Carlos Acosta & Cuba’s Performing Arts Award

Dariela Aquique 

Carlos Acosta with Tamara Rojo in a performance of the Royal Ballet of London in Cuba in August 2009. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, August 29 — Tonight the curtains will go up at our majestic old theater — formerly the Teatro Tacon but today the Gran Teatro de la Habana — for the formal presentation of an award.

The 2011 “National Dance Award,” the highest honor conferred by the “National Council of the Performing Arts,” will be presented to Carlos Acosta, the most outstanding figure of classical ballet today.

On previous occasions this artist was honored with illustrious rewards, among those that stand out being the Prix de Lausanne gold medal and the Laurence Olivier Award for his choreography of Tocororo: A Cuban Tale, considered the best show presented on the London stage in 2006.

This past Thursday, when it was announced that he would be granted this coveted prize on the island, the news was welcomed with gratitude by all.  In the first place, the laureate possesses a wealth of merit as an artist; he is endowed with tremendous talent and an exceptional aptitude for dance.  Secondly, he’ll receive this homage at the young age of 38, something uncommon, since these are generally recognitions of veteran performers.

On the other hand — and this is an important detail — Carlos Acosta lives outside of Cuba.  He performs with the Royal British Ballet as their Principal Guest Artist, the second Cuban figure to have joined that prestigious company.

The internationally recognized dancer was born in Havana in 1973 and finished his studies there in 1991 at the National School of Ballet.  Having developed within those ranks, he has been a faithful exponent of the aesthetic tenets of that academy.

On the importance of this award, the dancer expressed: “For me this is of a great value because it’s a laurel that’s being conferred in my country, which I love unconditionally, where it’s always pleasure to return, so this also allows me to fulfill the old adage of being a prophet in my own land…” 

But independently of how well-deserved this award is, I wonder: Would it have been conferred on him based on his virtues if his residence abroad was not based on his work, but if he was instead an emigrant?  Would it have been granted to him if he had not demonstrated his gratefulness to the revolution on more than one occasion?

Undoubtedly not.

Carlos Acosta has a house in North London where he lives with his girlfriend.   On the terrace of this home is where he wrote Suite Tocororo, the dramatic ballet with libretto, choreography and directed by himself (and which is included in the Book of Honor of the Gran Teatro de la Habana).  That work was based on his personal experiences and was premiered to a packed house in the Garcia Lorca Hall of that theater in 2003.  It should be added that this choreographic premiere was attended by Fidel Castro, who Acosta later presented to his parents.

I consider this award of recognition proper and commendable.  On the other hand, it would be good that starting from this moment nothing else were given to Cuban residents in Cuba or to nonresidents who reaffirm not only their patriotism but their identification with the system on the island.

I believe that outside of the country there are many artists and scientists who also deserve national awards in their specialties, whatever they may be.  But there are those who don’t express their approval of the politics of Cuba and this prevents them from being recognized.

I remember the words of Fidel to the intellectuals: “With the revolution everything, against the revolution nothing!  And now we could add: “…even if it’s from a distance.”

In any case, I join in the happiness of other Cubans.  Though I can’t be in the capital tonight, I won’t miss the details of what’s broadcast on television.  From my home I’ll say: “Bravo Carlos!”…even if it’s from a distance.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

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3 thoughts on “Carlos Acosta & Cuba’s Performing Arts Award

  • All I can say is thank you in this post you have shared with us. Also I am looking forward to read your new post.

  • Why is it so difficult to understand that every person has the right to hold his or her government to account without fear or favour?
    Why is it so difficult to understand that some governments use any excuse to get away with bad government?
    Canek Sanchez Guevarra, the oldest grandson of Che Guevarra, and an outspoken critic of the Cuban government, is barred for life from ever returning to Cuba where he was born.

  • Carlos Acosta’s benefits are based on his performance, which is universally recognized.

    The fact that he doesn’t break with or publicly attack the Cuban system is to his credit. If he were an opponent, I’m sure that no matter how good his artistic ability, he would not receive such a recognition.

    Acosta chooses to live abroad. And the Cuban government accepts that, and has given him permission. He chooses not to attack the system in his home country. And he returns regularly to give back something of his talent, prestige and and recognition to the country in which he received a free education and the ability to develop his immense talent at no cost to him. He performs for free in Cuba and they treat him nicely. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone.

    No matter how gifted Celia Cruz was, no matter how talented Paquito D’Rivera is, or Gloria Estefan or any of the other talented Cuban artists who not only live abroad, but who also make political statements against the Cuban government, there is a relentless blockade by Washington which is firmly in place.

    It’s unfortunate that these individuals, who are Cuban, who are talented, and and who have who have both left the country and made hostile political statements, can’t get awards on the island for their talent alone, outside a political framework. But there IS a political framework, as we have seen most recently with Pablo Milanes and his visit to Miami.

    But can you really fault the Cubans for differentiating between friends and opponents, including in the artistic realm? If not, why not? Why does this seem so hard to understand?

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