Expert's Corner

Hola! My name is Yane Marquez and I was born and raised in Cuba. After graduating from the University of Havana and the Tourism School of Cuba, I worked for over 10 years as a tour guide, translator and event organizer for Cuba's travel companies and organizations. I guided many groups attending Cuba's main international festivals, fairs and events. A few years ago, I moved to Canada where I have continued promoting Cuba’s tourism industry. I would be more than happy to answer any question you have about festival Cuba travel. Do not miss out!
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About this Cuban Festival

The International Ballet Festival of Havana, one of the world’s most prestigious dance festivals, takes place every other year and brings together many of the top Cuban and foreign ballet dancers. The non-competitive festival is designed to promote exchange between artists, critics, choreographers, business people and other professionals of the ballet world. The presentations include classics in the repertory of the world’s most famous companies to more modern choreographies. Some of the classics are Carmen, Don Quijote, Grand pas de deux Classique, Las Silfides, Coppelia, Theme and Variations, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. The numerous side activities are another attraction of the ballet festival. These include book presentations, conferences, movie showings and photography and painting exhibits. The festival has performances in several Cuban cities, but the most important venue is the capital, Havana.

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Official Ballet Festival of Havana 2016 Cuba Tour

Ballet Festival 2016 Havana Ballet Festival 2016 School of Ballet, Cuba Cuba Cigar Tours at The Hotel Nacional Discount Cuba Education Tours Cuba Tour Ballet Festival 2016

Travel to Cuba for the 25th International Ballet Festival of Havana with Authentic Cuba Travel
Unlimited Access to the Cuban Ballet World for as little as $2,299!

The Havana Ballet Festival Cuba Tour takes place from Oct 28 to Nov 4, 2016


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Authentic Cuba Travel is pleased to present the official Cuba tour to the 25th International Havana Ballet Festival 2016 taking place from October 28 to November 4, 2016. The International Ballet Festival of Havana will take place from October 28, 2016 to November 6, 2016. With over twenty performances and several world premieres planned to take place at the Great Theatre of Havana, The Karl Marx Theatre and the Mella Theatre, the ballet festival is an incredible achievement when one considers the conditions and lack of resources faced by the theatres and company.

The energy and commitment of Alicia Alonso and her team make it all happen. Alicia Alonso’s tireless efforts combined with the permanent support from Cuban cultural institutions have made it possible that today the National Ballet of Cuba shows with pride its very talented dancers capable of assuming an impressive repertoire that combines the most famous classical performances with the new trends.

Organized by the Cuba’s National Ballet every two years, the International Ballet Festival of Havana draws ballet dancers, choreographers and companies from all over the globe that turn Havana City into the mecca of classical dancing for a few days. Worth mentioning are companies such as the London Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet, the Scala de Milan and the Ballet del Teatro Colón, the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet; and renown ballet dancers such as Anette Delgado, Viengsay Valdés, Carlos Acosta, Sadaise Arencibia, Alejandro Virelles, Elier Bourzac, Ernesto Alvarez, Javier Torres José Lozada, Yanela Piñera, Yumiko Takeshima, Erina Takahashi, Jared Angle, José M. Carreño, Joaquin De Luz and many others.

Authentic Cuba Travel warmly invites US ballet dancers, dance teachers, choreographers, coaches, ballet writers & historians and other ballet related professionals to attend the 25th International Ballet Festival of Havana 2016. The official Cuba tour will take place from October 28 to November 4, 2016.



The first festival was held in March, 1960, very soon after the foundation of the Cuba’s National Ballet and before the political conflict with the States had fully developed.

There were further festivals in 1966 and 1967, but from 1974 the festival has been held biennially every other fall. The festival has always been international in spirit, not just in name, welcoming foreign companies to perform their own ballets, and international dancers, to dance with the Cuba’s National Ballet and to perform pas de deux and solos both from the gala classic rep and individual pieces in one of the many 'mixed' programmes.

The 22nd International Ballet Festival of Havana opened with an official gala, attended by President Raul Castro and other political figures.

While the emphasis of the International Ballet Festivals of Havana may focus on ballet tradition, there are always some more modern choreographers, for example, the 2010 ballet festival included the Canadian Peter Quanz, in a new piece for the company, and David Dawson and Christopher Wheeldon in ballets brought by guest companies.

Our Cuba ballet tour will give you full access to all premieres, performances and biennial related venues taking place in Havana 2016.

Please, check the day-by-day itinerary below. Welcome Aboard!

Havana Ballet Festival
Cuba Tour Highlights:

  • 7 nights at Hotel Presidente (E) or Nacional (B) breakfast included.
  • Ballet Festival Pass to have access to all venues & events.
  • Luxury 24/7 Dedicated Air-conditioned Motor Coach and Driver.
  • An Expert Cuban English Speaking Guide and Translator
  • Support from Authentic Cuba Travel' Staff in Cuba and Canada.
  • 11 Meals Included: 8 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches.
  • Official Asistur Cuban Health Insurance Coverage.
  • Tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Havana Historical Centre.
  • Travel to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vinales Valley.
  • Unlimited access to venues of the Havana Ballet Festival, 2014.
  • Premium Seats at Opening Ceremony of Havana's Ballet Festival.
  • Lunch hosted by world renowned Cuban artists Jose Fuster.
  • Attend art show & side activities of Havana's Ballet Festival.
  • Guided tour of Partagas Cigar Factory, founded in 1845.
  • Rub shoulders with Cuban & international renown ballet dancers!
  • Visit to Cuba's National Art Schools.
  • Private visit to the National Ballet School of Cuba.
  • Guided tour of the Museum of Fine Arts' Cuban Collection.
  • Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana.

Notice to US Travelers:

Travel to Cuba under the General Research License
This Cuba festival tour is licensable for U.S. ballet dancers, dance teachers, choreographers, coaches, ballet writers & historians and other ballet related professionals interested in conducting professional research on the Cuba's Ballet scene. Authentic Cuba Travel is able to offer US ballet related professionals this Cuba ballet tour to the Havana Ballet Festival 2016 because of a rare political opening in U.S. policy that allows professionals and educational groups to go to the island as part of Cuba study tours.

Travel to Cuba under a specific People-to-People OFAC license?
ANY US citizen can travel to Cuba legally under the people-to-people license of a specific organization. The people-to-people license is a program that was started under the administration of President Clinton (so it is not a new program), then it was revoked under Bush administration and it was reinstated by the administration of President Obama.
Cuba's National Ballet - Ballet Festival Cuba Tour 2012.
The National Ballet School of Cuba has come to be known as one of the finest centers for classical ballet training in the world. It has produced such dancers as Jose Manuel Carreno, Adiarys Almeida, Rolando Sarabia, Viengsay Valdes, Osiel Gounod, and Lorena Feijoo among many others. The school has a reputation for producing dancers that hold high standards in ballet technique and perform with a great level of authority, artistry, passion, and style.
Cuba's National Ballet School- Ballet Festival Cuba Tour 2012.
The Cuba Ballet School’s facilities are some of the most beautiful in the world with the National Ballet School of Canada and The Royal Ballet School in close competition. The sustained success of the Cuban National Ballet should come as no surprise when you take into account the fact that there is a school affiliated with the ballet which is the largest ballet school in the world. There are about 4300 students at the Cuban National Ballet School at any one time, a cohort that the school can select from the approx 50,000 people who apply to the school every year.
Great Theatre of Havana - Havana Ballet Festival 2012.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Great Theater of Havana, home of the Cuba's National Ballet and main venue of the International Ballet Festival of Havana. Performers here have included the great ballerinas Fanny Elssler and Anna Pavlova, the major opera singer Enrico Caruso and the great actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Dusse. The theater is also used by Havana's flamenco ensemble and by the opera company.
 Cuba Ballet School- Havana Ballet Festival 2012.
The Cuba Ballet School is known for producing strong technicians and education by this institution guarantees an ability to showstop. The male students produced by the school are well known for their turns and jumps. They are known for doing many pirouettes and highly spectacular, unconventional leaps. Cuba ballet education is integral: Cuban students get French- because the steps are taught in French; you get piano; you get history ... and if you don't pass any given subject, you don't go to the next level. They are exposed to many cultural aspects. They study Cuban modern dance, social dance. Cuban ballet dancers are very well versed in the language of the body, which gives them an incredible sensibility that gives warmth to the audience.
Guided tour of Cuba's National Art School. Meet with Cuban art students and professors. The schools were designed and built by architects Cuban Ricardo Porro and the Italians Roberto Gottardi and Vittorio Garatti from 1961 to 1965, in the former affluent neighbourhood of Country Club Park (today known as Cubanacán), specifically on the grounds of the Havana Country Club golf course.
 Ballet New York- Havana Ballet Festival 2012.
Organized by the Cuba’s National Ballet every two years, the International Ballet Festival of Havana draws ballet dancers, choreographers and companies from all over the globe that turn Havana City into the mecca of classical dancing for a few days. Worth mentioning are companies such as the London Royal Ballet, the English National Ballet, the Scala de Milan and the Ballet del Teatro Colón, the American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet.

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  • Day 1. Friday 28 October 2016. Hello Cuba

    Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Havana City.

    You are welcomed by your Cuban guide and bus driver for the entire tour.

    Transfer to your hotel (Presidente or Nacional de Cuba), located in Vedado, Havana's entertainment district.

    Private group check-in.

    Breakfast is complimentary from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

    Evening venue: participate in Opening Ceremony of the 25th International Ballet Festival of Havana at the Great Theatre of Havana. Please, do not forget your All Access Ballet Festival Pass!

    Day 2. Saturday 29 October 2016. Havana

    Morning: guided walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Havana.

    Visit to the Cathedral Square, named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order.

    The Cathedral's baroque facade is simultaneously intimate and imposing, and one of the two towers is visibly larger, creating a pleasing asymmetry. As with many churches in the city, the building material of Havana Cathedral includes coral, cut and hauled from the edge of the sea by slaves. Look carefully and you'll see fossils of marine flora and fauna in the stone of the cathedral.

    Visit to Square of Arms, ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers and surrounded by impressive buildings such as:

    Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former official residence of the governors (Captains General) of Havana, Cuba. It is home to the Museum of the City of Havana. It houses exhibitions of art and historical artefacts and many of the rooms are preserved with their original Colonial decoration.

    Palacio del Segundo Cabo. The seat of the second authority of the island. Today it houses important publishing concerns.

    Castillo de la Real Fuerza. The second oldest fortress built by the Spaniards in the West Indies. The castle was recently renovated and reopened in June 2008 to hold the impressive maritime museum. Well laid out exhibits chart Spain and Cuba's naval history.

    Welcome lunch at La Mina restaurant.

    Visit to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Notice it doesn't have a church or government building around. Here we will visit important institutions for visual arts.

    Continue walking tour onto San Francisco Square, named after the Convent of San Francisco, this square was conceived in 1628, with the objective of supplying water to the ships trading with the metropolis. For many years it also served to stockpile the goods arriving from the harbor.

    Chronicles of the time say that the square had a busy commercial life. The people, in humble carts or afoot, sold and bought a variety of goods. It’s important to know that through this place the Spanish immigrants arrived to Cuba.

    Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana, located inside the Almacenes de Depósito San José, an old warehouse on the harbourside where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local artisans.

    Return to hotel.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 3. Sunday 30 October 2016. Day trip to Vinales Valley

    Day tour to Vinales Valley, containing the most spectacular scenery in Cuba and some of the most interesting and varied geological formations on the island. The valley is particularly famous for its great freestanding rock formations called mogotes.

    Visit local tobacco growing farms and meet with local farmers that have been passing from generation to generation the secrets of growing the best tobacco in the world.

    Visit to Mural de la Prehistoria, a huge painting on the side of a Mogote.

    Lunch at Cueva del Indio restaurant.

    After lunch we will visit the Cueva del Indio, used by the Guanahatabey Amerindians as a burial site in ancient time, and as refuge from the Spaniards for both Indians and Black slaves alike. We’ll take a short boat ride on the subterranean river running through the cave.

    Explore Viñales town at your leisure: its open-air craft market, Parque Marti, town church, and other interesting sites of this charming colonial hamlet.

    Visit Carmen and Caridad Miranda’s botanical garden, called the Viñales Botanical Garden. The two widows maintain a garden full of fruits, orchids and medicinal plants.

    Return to Havana city.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 4. Monday 31 October 2016. Havana

    Morning: guided tour of Cuba's National Art Schools (ISA). ISA professors are all active visual artists, art curators or art critics. The faculty of visual arts provides a combination of theory and practice designed for students serious about pursuing artistic achievement through concentrated study.

    Study at the Institute is comparable to conservatory work in the United States. This is a great opportunity to exchange with the new generation of Cuban visual artists. Meet with students and professors.

    We are now "leaving" Havana and entering Fusterlandia, the studio, residence and wild kingdom of José Rodriguez Fuster, one of the most important Cuban ceramists and painters today. Lunch hosted by Jose Fuster.

    Afternoon: Free to attend art shows, exhibits by the Cuban Film Industry, lectures and all cultural events related to the 23rd International Ballet Festival of Havana. There would be more than dozen cultural events happening in the city around the ballet festival of Havana.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 5. Tuesday 1 November 2016.

    Morning: visit to the National Ballet School of Cuba has come to be known as one of the finest centers for classical ballet training in the world. It has produced such dancers as Jose Manuel Carreno, Adiarys Almeida, Rolando Sarabia, Viengsay Valdes, Osiel Gounod, and Lorena Feijoo among many others. The school has a reputation for producing dancers that hold high standards in ballet technique and perform with a great level of authority, artistry, passion, and style. Exchange with professors and students.

    Lunch on your own.

    Afternoon: free to attend art shows, exhibits by the Cuban Film Industry, lectures and all cultural events related to the 23rd International Ballet Festival of Havana. There would be more than dozen cultural events happening in the city around the ballet festival of Havana.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 6. Wednesday 2 November 2016. Havana

    Morning: guided tour of the Museum of Fine Arts' Cuban Collection where we see the evolution of Cuba's visual arts over the last 300 years. The collection accounts for the richness of our Spanish, French, Chinese, African cultural roots.

    Lunch on your own.

    Afternoon: free to attend art shows, exhibits by the Cuban Film Industry, lectures and all cultural events related to the 23rd International Ballet Festival of Havana. There would be more than dozen cultural events happening in the city around the ballet festival of Havana.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 7. Thursday 3 November 2016. Havana

    Morning: visit to Partagas Cigar Factory, founded in 1845 by Spaniard Don Jaime Partagas. Don Jaime owned many of the best plantations in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco-growing region of Cuba and being able to choose from among the finest tobaccos on the island made the brand Partagas incredibly successful.

    Don Jaime is also believed to have experimented with various methods of fermenting and aging tobacco and is legendarily credited with hiring the first lector to read to and entertain the cigar rollers as they worked. Before and after the Revolution, the Cuban-produced Partagás has been one of the most revered and highest-selling brands of cigars in the world.

    Lunch on your own.

    Afternoon: free to attend art shows, exhibits by the Cuban Film Industry, lectures and all cultural events related to the 23rd International Ballet Festival of Havana. There would be more than dozen cultural events happening in the city around the ballet festival of Havana.

    Evening: attend ballet performance at the Great Theatre of Havana, Karl Marx Theatre or Mella Theatre. It is up to you to decide which performance you want to attend, you will have an All Access Ballet Festival Pass that gives you access to all ballet performances taking place in the city! (taxi cost, not included). The Great Theatre of Havana is located just 5 minute walk from your hotel.

    Day 8. Friday 4 November 2016. Departure

    Early morning departure to Havana City International Airport for departure.

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    Biography of Alicia Alonso



    Alicia Alonso, who is director and choreographer of the Cuban National Ballet, was born in Havana, where she began studying dance in 1931. She made her professional debut in the United States of America in 1938 after training with Enrico Zanfretta, Alexandra Fedorova and other teachers at the School of American Ballet.

    A year later, she joined the American Ballet Caravan, predecessor of the New York City Ballet of which she became a member of in 1940. It was beginning one of the greatest periods of her career, in which she interpreted roles in the great romantic and classic works alongside Mikhail Fokine, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille.

    She was the star of world premières of works such as Undertow, Fall River Legend and Theme and Variations. During this period she also danced as a prima ballerina in a many countries in Europe and the Americas.

    She was keen to foster ballet in Cuba and in 1948 founded the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company, now the Cuban National Ballet, which she still directs. Her choreographies of great classics (such as Giselle, Grand Pas de Quatre, La Bella Durmiente del Bosque and La Fille mal gardée) are world-renowned and have been staged by the Ballets of the Operas of Paris, Vienna and Prague, as well as the Ballet San Carlo in Naples and Milan's La Scala.

    Alonso, who admits to two great passions, "dancing and life," has honorary doctorates from Havana University and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). In June 1999, UNESCO awarded her its Pablo Picasso Medal for her outstanding contribution to dance.

    As director and leading figure in the Cuban National Ballet, she has been an inspiration and guide to a new generation of Cuban ballerinas who have won a distinguished place in world ballet.

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