Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2019-08-20 13:59Z by Steven

Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story

Dirty Movies — Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
2019-04-03

Redmond Bacon

Tender portrait of iconic ballet dancer doubles up as an exploration of fatherhood and also of the artist’s home nation Cuba – now available on VoD

Director – IcĂ­ar BollaĂ­n – 2019

When I was very young, my parents took me to ballet class. I immediately baulked at the idea and sat on the floor until my mother gave up and took me home. At the time I believed that being a ballet dancer was the worst possible thing on earth; now I see it as a massive lost opportunity. Carlos Acosta’s own father, Pedro (Santiago Alfonso), wasn’t as magnanimous as my mother, completely ignoring his son’s wishes in the pursuit of a higher aim.

His bet paid off, turning Carlos Acosta (nicknamed Yuli) into one of the greatest ballet dancers that ever lived; the first black man to perform at the Royal Ballet in London. Played at three different ages by Edlison Manuel Olbera NĂşnez, Keyvin MartĂ­nez and finally by the man himself, Yuli…

It starts in the poverty stricken streets of Havana; a place where the best options for young men to make something of themselves is through sport or dance. Carlos’ talent, expressed early on through street dance, gives his father an idea, and soon he is dragged to an audition at the National Ballet School of Cuba. But Carlos doesn’t want to perform ballet and mocks both his future teachers and his parents by putting on a tongue-in-cheek Michael Jackson-homage. He derisively describes ballet as something “for faggots”. Yet it is this very same ebullient spirit that lands him a place. His talent cannot be denied.

This is played out against a political and ethnic backdrop that acutely portrays the complexity of the Afro-Cuban experience. In one haunting scene, Carlos’ father takes him to his great-grandmother’s plantation, showing him how he is a direct descendent from the slave trade. Meanwhile his white mother escapes with her white relatives to Miami, benefiting from the same privilege that is denied to the young man. Pedro spins this hardship into a positive, telling Carlos that if his descendants could survive slavery, then he can become anything he wants…

Read the entire review here.

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Cecilia Valdés or El Angel Hill: A Novel of Nineteenth-Century Cuba

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels, Slavery, Women on 2019-04-04 19:19Z by Steven

Cecilia Valdés or El Angel Hill: A Novel of Nineteenth-Century Cuba

Oxford University Press
2005-09-29 (originally published in 1882)
544 Pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780195143959

Cirilo Villaverde (1812-1894)

Edited by:

Sibylle Fischer, Associate Professor of Spanish, Portuguese, and Comparative Literature
New York University

Translated by:

Helen Lane (1921-2004)

Cecilia ValdĂ©s is arguably the most important novel of 19th century Cuba. Originally published in New York City in 1882, Cirilo Villaverde’s novel has fascinated readers inside and outside Cuba since the late 19th century. In this new English translation, a vast landscape emerges of the moral, political, and sexual depravity caused by slavery and colonialism. Set in the Havana of the 1830s, the novel introduces us to Cecilia, a beautiful light-skinned mulatta, who is being pursued by the son of a Spanish slave trader, named Leonardo. Unbeknownst to the two, they are the children of the same father. Eventually Cecilia gives in to Leonardo’s advances; she becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl. When Leonardo, who gets bored with Cecilia after a while, agrees to marry a white upper class woman, Cecilia vows revenge. A mulatto friend and suitor of hers kills Leonardo, and Cecilia is thrown into prison as an accessory to the crime.

For the contemporary reader Helen Lane’s masterful translation of Cecilia ValdĂ©s opens a new window into the intricate problems of race relations in Cuba and the Caribbean. There are the elite social circles of European and New World Whites, the rich culture of the free people of color, the class to which Cecilia herself belonged, and then the slaves, divided among themselves between those who were born in Africa and those who were born in the New World, and those who worked on the sugar plantation and those who worked in the households of the rich people in Havana. Cecilia ValdĂ©s thus presents a vast portrait of sexual, social, and racial oppression, and the lived experience of Spanish colonialism in Cuba.

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Misty Copeland En Pointe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:30Z by Steven

Misty Copeland En Pointe

The Undefeated
2016-12-14

Kelley L. Carter, Senior Culture Writer

Photographs by Brent Lewis
Videos by Lois Nam, Senior Digital Producer

America’s most famous prima ballerina heads to Cuba to represent female athleticism. (Yes, athleticism.)

HAVANA, Cuba

Misty Copeland is at the barre.

She’s demonstrating a battement tendu to a group of ballerinas at a dance magnet school.

The dancers — all girls ages 15 to 17, all in black leotards, white tights and pointe shoes, and all with their hair pulled up into impeccable topknots — listen intently.

All eyes are focused on her. Copeland is speaking in English. The teen dancers only understand Spanish.

There is a language translator — Maria Luz Pereya, a former dancer herself, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina — and she offers at one point to bring a corded microphone toward Copeland and translate. Copeland quickly shakes her head, declining her assistance in this moment. This is, after all, Havana, the capital of Cuba, an island in the northern Caribbean where, as they say, the three languages spoken and understood by all are: Spanish, baseball and dance.

And Copeland, a groundbreaking ballerina — as well as author, and newlywed — who made history last year when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history, happens to be fluent in the art of motion. “Sport and art and dance unify people,” Copeland said later, sitting on the rooftop of Havana’s The Saratoga — the same place BeyoncĂ© and Jay Z spent their 2013 wedding anniversary. “It’s a language and a culture that people from everywhere, all over the world, can relate to, and understand, and come together for.”…

Misty Danielle Copeland got her start in ballet on the basketball court…

Read the entire article here.

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Colorism And Privilege: An Afro-Cuban American In Havana

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-11-25 00:30Z by Steven

Colorism And Privilege: An Afro-Cuban American In Havana

FEM: UCLA’s Feminist Newsmagazine Since 1973
2016-04-28

Graciela Barada

My father, born in Cuba at the end of Castro’s Revolution, migrated to the United States in 1980. He was a young, black, Spanish-speaking political refugee who left his wife and months-old daughter behind in hopes of building a better life for himself. A “Marielito,” my father braved the 115-mile stretch of the Caribbean sea to Florida under President Carter’s pardon of Cuban refugees. My mother is a white Spaniard who moved to Washington, D.C. in 1989 for graduate school at Georgetown University. An unlikely couple, my parents met at my father’s Cuban nightclub, a hub for Latino culture, music, and dance. Although my siblings and I were born and raised in the U.S., we have been fortunate enough to travel to our parents’ birth countries in order to familiarize ourselves with their respective cultures…

..In Cuba, the Communist Revolution is often portrayed as the “great equalizer,” not just economically but also in respect to race relations. In many ways, this has been true: people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have access to education, jobs, transportation, healthcare, and other social services. Regardless, there are traces of racial hierarchy and a colonialist mentality which are deeply entrenched in Cuban society. As far as I know, all of my Cuban relatives are black. The majority of them are dark-skinned; when asked, two of my male cousins expressed that they do not feel hated because of their African ancestry and darker pigmentation. Still, they are well-aware that their roles within society are informed by Cuba’s history of racial hierarchy and discrimination…

Read the entire article here.

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