Cuban music has Spanish and African roots, a blend that has contributed to a unique sound in both traditional and popular music.
The Cuban rumba, son, guaracha, habanera, bolero,danzón, conga, and cha-cha, as well as salsa and the Nueva Trova (“New Song”) movement, have influenced much of the hemisphere. The Cuban folk anthem “Guantanamera,” which derives from a nostalgic poem by José Martí, is frequently heard throughout Latin America, as are the popular love songs “Habanera Tú” and “Siboney.” Composer-singers Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez, among the founders of the Nueva Trova movement, are acclaimed throughout Latin America for their lyric social criticism. Festivals of Cuban music and song are held throughout the year, encompassing works of every genre from every period, including the internationally popular Afro-Cuban jazz.
The worldwide success of the Buena Vista Social Club album (1997) and concert series, as well as the subsequent film documentary (1999), introduced listeners throughout the world to those genres and revived the careers of such once-popular artists as Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, and Omara Portuondo. Classical music is of relatively minor importance in Cuba, but there is a National Symphony Orchestra that also has a chamber orchestra and instrumental ensembles.
One of Cuba’s foremost artistic figures is Alicia Alonso—a dancer of international acclaim, the prima ballerina and founder (1948) of the company that would become the National Ballet of Cuba, and the head of its school. The Ballet of Camagüey, under the direction of Fernando Alonso, was established in 1971, and a second Havana company was founded in the mid-1980s.
Besides classical ballet, there is the Modern Dance Company in Havana, the Tumba Francesa (a black folk group) in Santiago de Cuba, and dozens of smaller troupes.
Cuban theatre has been state-supported since 1959, mostly under the direction of the Ministry of Culture. There are several national dramatic groups, such as the Studio Theatre, whose directing councils create their own repertoire. Provincial theatre groups are also well established. Cuban theatre reached a new maturity in the 1980s, producing plays focusing on contemporary social problems as well as developing efforts to integrate music and dance. However, like most aspects ofCuban life, theatre suffered during the “special period” of the 1990s. National and international theatre festivals feature Cuban companies and troupes from the rest of the Americas. The National Theatre has an excellent library, and House of the Americas (Casa de las Américas), an international cultural institution, sponsors regular encuentros (meetings) with theatre professionals. Increasingly, Cuban theatre troupes travel abroad as part of an active exchange program. "Cuba" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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