Moving Tradition

While the less-successful experiments of Fidel Castro’s Cuba are well known, its state-run system for training dance professionals can hardly be counted among them. For nearly half a century, the country has turned out some of the most stunning dancers on the planet. Among them is San Francisco’s Ramón Ramos Alayo. Selected to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age 11, he went on to tour the world with some of the country’s best-known companies. In 1997, he moved to California, where his blend of Afro-Cuban, modern, folkloric, and popular Cuban dance has been winning a steady stream of converts ever since. In his latest project, "BOUNDtogether", Alayo teams up with longtime friend and choreographer Tania Santiago, whose Afro-Brazilian company, Aguas de Bahia, may rival only his own Alayo Dance Company in contagious energy. Santiago’s contribution to the evening, Sagrada/Profana Bahia, explores the fine line between the sacred and profane in traditional Brazilian culture through two new dances, Terra de Todos os Santos (The Land of All Saints) and Terra de Felicidade (Land of Happiness). Meanwhile, Alayo tells the story of a person searching for redemption in A Piece of White Cloth, which traces the symbolism of plain white fabric through Cuban culture back to the Yoruban traditions of West Africa. If the dictatorship of his homeland has yielded less-than-hoped for results, perhaps it finds its own redemption in the exceptional arts Cuba continues to give the world.
Dec. 4-6, 7 p.m., 2009

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