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Dance company plans first Cuba trip in 50 years.

The American Ballet Theater visits Cuba in November to dance in the International Ballet Festival of Havana, according to a Jul. 30 story in the Wall Street Journal. The company last toured Cuba in 1960, when ABT was celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The upcoming festival is in honor of the Cuban-born dancer Alicia Alonso, the director of the National Ballet of Cuba, who danced with ABT in the 1940s.

Alonso visited New York this spring to celebrate her 90th birthday with ABT, which held a tribute performance during its 2010 spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. The company's invitation to the festival came from Alonso.

"ABT has for many years seen itself as a cultural ambassador, bringing American ballet to the world," said executive director Rachel Moore. "Alicia is part of our past, and remains part of our family. There is a special tie with the Cuban National Ballet."

The New York dance community has made consistent efforts to strengthen ties with Cuba. This will be a return trip for ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie, who traveled to Cuba in 1986. Since the mid-1970s, dancers from ABT, New York City Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater have made visits to the country.

The visit will be covered by ABT's regular touring budget; the State Department is not funding or involved with the trip. Moore says she'll focus on ballet, not politics: "We're trying to stay out of the political area and have it be a dialogue between artists."

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Date:Jul 1, 2010
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