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Cuba’s National Circus

Circuba's interview
Circuba's interview

Two young women in leotards stand elbow-to-elbow and hoist a third woman into the air, enabling her to place a foot on each of their shoulders. Together they form a smiling, ponytail-wearing human pyramid. The gymnast on top suddenly performs a double-flip and lands – smiling, arms outstretched in triumph – with her feet firmly on the ground.

And then the lights go out.

Blackouts happen now and then in Havana. For most of the city’s residents this is a familiar inconvenience. For an acrobat in Cuba’s National Circus (Circuba), a blackout is a potentially serious occupational hazard. Fortunately this particular blackout occurs only during a rehearsal for the evening’s circus performance, and any accidents have been avoided. Using candles and lights supplied by a visiting film crew, the women repair to their dressing room until the lights go back on.

You might hear the argument that the circus arts – that is, juggling, contortion, magic, clowns and the like – are the unsophisticated country cousins of the classical arts (ballet, opera...), but you’re unlikely to hear such an argument in Cuba. "The circus is the theatre of the street," explains Roberto Pérez Morell, Circuba’s director. "Young people, old people, everyone likes this kind of show."

Not that those audiences are easy to please. A circus performance is held to high standards in Cuba, and the performers must train accordingly. Anyone hoping to become a member of the Circuba company has to first complete the normal academic course work required of all Cuban students before he or she can hope to be accepted at the National Circus School. Then four years of rigorous circus training follow.

The Circuba company consists of about twenty artists, including a sound engineer, and the director. A typical performance lasts for one hour and forty minutes, and includes breath-taking high-wire acrobatics; a clown who rides an extremely small bicycle; the aforementioned pony-tailed gymnasts who, among other stunts, jump through fiery hoops; and the inevitable rumba-dancing dogs.

And you don’t have to be 10 years old to enjoy it.

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my mom was an acrobat of the cuban circus from 1976-1980 she studied in moscow she is one of the 21 artist that the chief trainer Guillermo Rodriguez is talking about in this video .. her name is ELISABET GENDRIZ.
How inspiring! I am a dancer and interested in training in acrobatics. Do you offer courses?
I am an acrobat from Argentina and I train aerial silks, gimnastics and trapeze. I would like to knong if there is a chance to obtain a scolarship or something like that so as to take some courses. thanks!!! sofia
Havana Cultura
Hola Sofia, I don't know if you can have a scolarship with Circuba. But you can contact them directly to ask: circuba@cubarte.cult.cu Saludos!
payaso faina
Hola soy artista de circo de argentina y me encantarìa participar del festival. Les dejo mis datos a traves de mi pagina web, saludos desde argentina faina
Havana Cultura
Hola Antonela, Puedes contactarles directamente para obtener estas informaciones: circuba@cubarte.cult.cu Saludos!
Antonela Rimoldi
hola soy antonela de Córdoba Argentina. Soy estudiante de teatro en la Universidad Nacional de Cordoba y hago acrobacia en tela me gustaria presenciar alguno de sus espectaculos ya que voy a estar en cuba entre el 29 de junio y el 7 de julio. me gustaria que me pasen informacion sobre cuando y donde los puedo encontrar. gracias.. saludos Antonela
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see also
The Plaza Vieja and the Plaza de la Catedral
web links
Cuba’s National Circus
Danza Abierta
Dance company
Danza-Teatro Retazos
Contemporary Dance Company
Dance Company
Contemporary Dance Company
Teatro Los Elementos
Theater company
Theater Director