When Victor Alexander and Maray Guiterrez defected their native Cuba fifteen years ago while on tour with the Cuban Ballet, their biggest concern was to assimilate happily and productively as Americans. Now, they’ve established themselves as eminent dancers with the Chicago contemporary dance company, Concert Dance, Inc. which presents El Salon in Jim Thorpe, works based on the group’s recent travels in China, the Czech Republic and Scotland.
Commissioned by The Ravinia Festival near Chicago in observance of the the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence, as well as 20th anniversary of the deaths of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, “El Salón Mexico” is based on Copland’s wildly infectious music. Visually, it is a feast as Chicago lighting designer and technical director Margaret Nelson uses her superb technical skills in the production, contributing a rich atmosphere to each work.
Mr. Alexander has toured and danced throughout Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. He was the first prize winner of the Fourth National Union of Writers and Artists Contest in Cuba in 1992. Ms. Gutierrez is a native of Havana where both she and Mr. Alexander trained at the National School of Dance. She has performed for British television and the Venice Opera, and was a principal dancer for Danza Contemporanea de Cuba for ten years.
Also on the program are several other works including “Irregular Pearls,” a multi-media work explores the company’s experiences in China and how they were affected by a 3000-year-old culture. A work inspired by Abraham Lincoln, “The Better Angels of Our Nature” features the music of Lawrence Dillon and is based on Lincoln’s personal letters.
“America is our home,” Mr. Alexander says, referring to himself, wife Maray, and their new son. “I love Chicago, but it is always fantastic to perform in a place like the Opera House. We have such a great time in Jim Thorpe.” This will be Concert Dance’s fourth visit to town since 2004.
Concert Dance offers a fun and free Salsa workshop at 3 PM before the show, in the spirit of the cultural nature of the show. (Salsa class just finished, fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUWHVCAu6N4&feature=youtube_gdata) Then, like dancers Victor Alexander and Maray Gutierrez, that evening’s dance performance at the Opera House will cover a lot of creative territory.
Tickets are only $20, students $10. Make a day of it in Jim Thorpe, relax at one of our many restaurants, and then take in a great show.
Visit www.MauchChunkOperaHouse.com or call (570) 325-0249 for more information.