In Havana With Malpaso Dance Company

In Havana With Malpaso Dance Company

From Christina Montoya

I'm raising funds for a very special and unique opportunity. To spend a month with the Malpaso Dance Company in Havana, Cuba! But I can't do this without your support. Please kindly see below for more details.

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So, a truly magical thing happened this summer. I received an invitation from the Cuban contemporary dance company Malpaso, to come spend the month of January, 2020, in Havana, Cuba with them. I met Fernando Saez, the executive director of Malpaso this past July at a fundraising event for the stellar dance organization ‘The Yard’, on Martha’s Vineyard. At the event, unbeknownst to me, Fernando saw me salsa dancing with the artistic director of Malpaso, Osnel Delgado, and shortly after that, Fernando extended the invitation.

 I am deeply thrilled and honored by this truly unique and special invitation. Malpaso, in their 7 short years of being established, are very quickly becoming an internationally sought after dance company, and with good reason. They are exceptional. But nevertheless, Malpaso is not in a position to financially fund the invitation, and likewise, I am not in a position to make this a reality on my own.

 Let me back up a bit, to give you a little history on my connection to Cuba, and how that connection has been unfolding on Martha’s Vineyard for the last 3 years. As many of you know, and some of you may not, I am a dancer, a performer, a choreographer and a dance teacher. My studies and passion for Cuban and Afro-Cuban dance began back in the late 1990s, when I traveled to Havana, Cuba to study Cuban and Afro-Cuban dance 3 years in a row. For 17 years I did not return to Cuba. In the fall of 2016, an undeniably strong feeling arose in me to return once again to study dance in Havana, Cuba, and through the generosity of local grants and the support of family, friends and my community, I had the good fortune to return. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 I returned to study for two weeks per visit. In 2017, I made a short film about my immersion into Afro-Cuban dance and made several presentations at local libraries and art venues on Martha’s Vineyard. In addition to my short film, I also included a culturally educational talk, as well as some of my own personal reflections on my experiences.

 In 2018, I offered Salsa Suelta Cubana dance classes, at local dance organizations like The Yard and continued making presentations at MV libraries, arts venues like Pathways ARTS and instructed summer dance classes at the Chilmark Community Center.

 In the spring of 2019, I began teaching a weekly Salsa Suelta Cubana dance class, which has been enthusiastically received and attended by local and seasonal community members. Also in the spring of 2019, I offered a ‘free to the public’ monthly dance class at the Oak Bluffs Public Library, and then that summer, I taught weekly classes at the same library for donations only. 

My mission is not only to share with my community the technical, joyous and sensual aspects of these incredible dance traditions, but also to educate about the history and cultures that these deep and rich traditions are born from.

If this dream to spend the month of January, with Malpaso in Havana, Cuba were to come true, I will be traveling under the visa requirement of “Support for the Cuban People”. I will not only be immersed and offering my assistance in the daily work of what it takes to run an extraordinary yet growing dance company, but I will also participate in their daily training classes. It has been made clear to me by Fernando, that although he believes friendship is the basis for all great collaborations, the potential for professional collaboration is very much “on the table”. 

I also plan to continue daily dance training in the styles of dance that I have been studying during my last 6 visits to Havana. My commitment to deepening my knowledge of Afro-Cuban and Cuban dance is not wavering. My dance studies in Cuba, are essential to continuing to deepen and enrich my knowledge of the traditions I am teaching.

Financial support to make this incredible opportunity a reality, is needed for the categories listed below:

*Preparations for Cuba (many practical items are simply unavailable in Cuba or very difficult to obtain)

*My rent in Cuba 

*My rent on Martha’s Vineyard while in Cuba  

*Plane ticket/Travel

*Food

 *Daily transportation

*Afro-Cuban and Cuban dance studies in Havana. 5 days a week for 1 month. 

*Daily expenses

In return for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I have some offerings and ways to give back to my community planned upon my return. In the first week of March, 2020, The Yard will present Malpaso in performance once again on Martha’s Vineyard. The company will also be teaching in the schools on Martha's Vineyard that same week, and I will be assisting them with this. In addition, that same week, I will  give a presentation at PathwaysARTS about my experience with Malpaso in Cuba, and I will perform a choreographed dance piece inspired by my experience.

 Of course my weekly Salsa Suelta Cubana dance classes will resume upon my return, and I will be able to offer lots of fresh inspiration and knowledge to my students. I will also offer presentations about my experience at the local libraries and my monthly ‘free to the public’ Salsa Suelta Cubana dance class will resume at the Oak Bluffs Public Library. It's also looking very promising that an article written by me, will be published about my experience with Malpaso in one of the local newspapers or magazines.

So very many, many, MANY thanks for your time and consideration. Any amount of support is deeply appreciated. 

With love and gratitude,

Christina 

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