Cuban dancers can’t cross border |

Cuban dancers can’t cross border

Matt Zalaznick

Lizt Alfonso’s Dance Cuba, a Cuban dance troupe –as well as its performance in Vail, scheduled to start Thursday –are the latest casualties of increased security in the U.S.

The group’s visas had been approved. But a new State Department policy –which went into effect July 23 –required an additional review of the visas, a process that couldn’t be completed in time for the troupe to make it to the High Country, say presenters of the Dance Festival.

“It is a disappointment that Dance Cuba will not be able to join us,” says Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz. “The festival has never before lost a company, but we are understanding and appreciative of the new and heightened security regulations after the tragedies of Sept. 11.”

The Vail Valley Foundation has already found three troupes to replace the Cuban dancers, who were supposed to perform at the Dance Festival Thursday through Sunday.

The New York City Ensemble, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival – all internationally recognized dance troupes –will fill in, Folz says.

The 24-year-old Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s blending of theatrical jazz and modern and classical ballet techniques is considered an innovative force in contemporary dance, Folz says.

“Hubbard Street will take your breath away,” adds Katherine Kersten, an artistic director with the Dance Festival. “The company boasts tremendous depth and a vibrant contemporary flair.”

The Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival, which performs at the Ford Amphitheater Sunday afternoon, features traditional Russian folk dancers, Balalaika musicians and colorful costumes. Audience members will get into the act during an educational session where the troupe will give some pointers on Russian dance.

The Cubans will be missed. The troupe would have added a flavor to the festival that the valley isn’t accustomed to, festival sponsor Donna Giordano said.

“It definitely would have been new,” Giordano says. “We usually try to get people that haven’t performed here before.”

“It’s a disappointment,” she adds, “but we have to keep on going.”

The festival, now in its 14th year, began Tuesday at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. It ends Sunday.

Other performers include ensembles of artists from the Paris Opera Ballet and the New York City Ballet.

“This festival prides itself on presenting the world’s best dancers and dance companies, and we are so fortunate that in this situation we were able to bring in three exceptional ensembles to replace Dance Cuba,” Folz says “These exciting artists have come together to continue our 14 year tradition of bringing the world’s finest dancers and dance companies to Vail.”

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