In this episode, Jessica was in Havana, Cuba interviewing Marta Ortega, a dancer with Acosta Danza. Acosta Danza was formed in 2016 when international ballet star, Carlos Acosta retired from a highly regarded 30-year ballet career with the Royal Ballet and moved back to Cuba. The company commissions international choreographers such as Mats Ek and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui to create original contemporary works on its dancers. In 2018, Acosta Danza will perform in Havana and tour in the US, Europe and Singapore. Learn more at http://www.acostadanza.com/en/
Acosta Danza will perform at New York City Center April 25-27th as part of the ¡Adelante, Cuba! Festival. Get tickets here.
A Note from Jessica:
After my interview with Marta, she showed me a video of her and Carlos performing a recent piece by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui at Sadler’s Wells in London. It was clear that she is a versatile, powerful and natural contemporary dancer with a strong ballet foundation, stemming from her traditional ballet and modern dance training in Havana. The vibrant dance scene in Cuba is part of a prominent cultural tradition of contemporary art in Cuban society which can be seen in galleries, murals, street art, and institutions throughout Havana, including Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a contemporary arts venue presenting visual arts, live music, dance, and film screenings in a fun party-like atmosphere where one can drink, eat, wander around galleries, and then make their way to a DJ-dance floor.
Cuban performance artists are increasingly being shown in the U.S. Recently, the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis presented a series of Cuban artists. After our interview, Marta expressed that there are a great number of talented dancers in Cuba and she wished there were more opportunities for them to be supported and presented. Unlike most Cuban dance companies, Acosta Danza receives external funding from private international donors (and a partnership with Sadler’s Wells) which allows the company to commission international choreographers and provide more opportunities to its dancers, like exposure and touring opportunities. It will be interesting to see how this international focus will influence Cuban choreographers in such an established and rich tradition of dance.
More about Marta Ortega:
Prior to joining Acosta Danza, Marta danced with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba. Hailing from Havana, Cuba Marta Ortega trained at the School of Ballet “Alejo Carpentier,” National Ballet School of Cuba and the National School of Art. In 2006 she participated in international cultural exchanges in Italy and the Netherlands. In 2008 Ortega won first place in her specialty at the National Contest of Schools of Art. In that year she graduated with honors and joined Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. In this company, led by maestro Miguel Iglesias, she reached the rank of principal dancer, and danced in Casi Casa by Mats Ek; Equation, Carmina Burana, MeKniksmo, Mambo 3XXI,Identity- 1, Matria Etnocentra by George Céspedes; Demo-N / Crazy by Rafael Bonachela, Folia and Compass by Jan Linkens, Sombrisa by Itzik Galili; Horizons by Pedro Ruiz; Reversible by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa;Tocororo, Cuban fable by Carlos Acosta; Cuban tangos by Billy Cowie;Capricis by Angels Margarit; Crystal and Mercury by Julio César Iglesias and Transire. Not wanting to look back by Norge Cedeño. As part of the cast of The equation, by the Cuban choreographer George Céspedes, in 2010 she won the Audience Award at the 24 Internationaler Wettbewer fur Choreographen in Hannover, Germany. She graduated from the University of the Arts in Cuba (ISA) with Golden Title Bachelor’s of Art in Dance, specializing in Contemporary Dance. Since 2015 she has been part of Acosta Danza where she has danced Alrededor no hay nada, by Goyo Montero; De punta a cabo, by Alexis Fernández (Maca); and Carmen, by Carlos Acosta.
Marta spoke Spanish during the interview. Read her fully transcribed interview in English and Spanish here.