Culture

Cuban Professional Ballet Dancers Are Paid $30 Per Month, That’s The Same Amount Doctors Are Paid On The Island

There are a lot of beautiful things that come to mind when you think of Cuba. Cuisine, art, history… rum. But few know that the small island in the Caribean is also home to one of the most celebrated arts in the world. As it turns out, when it comes to dancem the Cuban Ballet Company brings pretty much world-class standard to the art of ballet. 

So next time you want to impress a hottie with your worldly knowledge, maybe throw a few of our obscure facts out and watch them swoon over your smarts.

1. It was founded in 1948.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The official founding date of the Cuban Ballet Company is October 28, 1948. 

2. The official school for the company is the Cuban National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

While the Cuban National Ballet School isn’t technically the Cuban Ballet Company, the two are pretty much intertwined. It means that students from the School can usually take it for granted that once they graduate, they can begin dancing for the Company.

3. The Cuban Ballet Company was founded by a husband and wife duo.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Prima ballerina Alicia Alonso and her husband, Alberto, were the founders for “Ballet Alicia Alonso.” Two years later, the two also established “Alicia Alonso Academy of Ballet.” By 1956, the pair saw their businesses transformed into the Cuban Ballet Company and Cuban National Ballet School, respectively. It’s worth noting that while the two of them founded the Company and School, Alicia Alonso has been the real driving force behind them.

4. Dancers in the company earn $30 a month.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Since it’s a communist regime, Cuban doctors and skilled workers earn the same amount.

5. The National Ballet School provides courses for international students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

This is a must-know for any of you who want to study ballet professionally. The International Dance Program is directed by Alicia Alonso herself! 

6. The Cuban Ballet Company incorporates Latin American culture into its dance techniques.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Apparently, the Cuban dance form draws from its Ibero-America, Caribbean roots.

7. Unlike a lot of other countries, both the Cuban Ballet Company and the National Ballet School are funded by the state.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

And it has been since 1959 when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.

8. That being said, the Company and School weren’t always so talented.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Despite the fact that the two were regarded as highly artistic and talented cohorts, they struggled for money during their early years. Before 1959, they had to make ends meet without any assistance from the state.

9. Over the years, the Cuban Ballet Company has performed the likes of “Giselle,” “The Swan Lake,” and “Coppélia.”

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

In doing so, the Company both choreographed and performed completely new versions of these classics. Impressive, no?

10. Students for the National Ballet School are handpicked by the Ballet itself.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Talent scouts travel the country searching for new talent, searching for gifted students in over 14 provinces.

11. The School follows strict criteria when it seeks new students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Gifted students are usually trained from childhood. In order to be eligible, these kids must have good musicality, the right body proportions, and the ability to follow simple steps.

12. The National Ballet School doesn’t just teach dance.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Once students have been accepted into the School, they typically dance from 7 am to 1:30 pm. Afterward, they then learn the French language, piano, how to read music, folklore, and a whole array of different dances.

13. It takes eight years to graduate from the National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

So, if you ever get the chance to see the Cuban Ballet Company, know that they’ve worked very hard to get where they are today!

14. The National Ballet School turns out 40 students per year.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Imagine graduating from your school, knowing there are only 39 other students graduating at the same time as you. Wild.

15. The Cuban Ballet Company has created more than 600 works.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

And it’s also performed in more 60 countries worldwide. Having the Cuban Ballet Company on your resume is seen as a huge plus if you’re a ballet dancer, as it’s pretty much considered to be the top echelon of ballet training and professionalism. 

16. On its 50th anniversary, the Ballet and Alicia Alonso were awarded Lazaro Pena Order.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Given to the Alonso by Castro himself, this is the highest civil decoration that is given in Cuba.

17. While the Ballet is highly regarded in Cuba, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its defections.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Cuban Ballet Company traveled to the US for the first time in 2003. It was during this time that five members defected, as they sought to join American ballet troupes instead.

18. Believe it or not, but Alicia Alonso still directs The Nutcracker at the Valencia Main Theatre.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

She’s literally 98 years old, almost blind, and is still the general director of the Ballet. What. A. Woman. Granted, while there have been calls to have someone else take over, Alonso keeps on with her work. Chances are, she’s never really been held back by the fact that she’s almost blind – Alonso has been working with an eye condition throughout her entire life. 

19. The Cuban Ballet Company performs to cheering crowds.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Everyone knows Cubans know how to tur up. And it’s the same when the dancers perform. This is largely due to the fact that the arts are highly regarded in Cuba. 

20. A documentary was made about the Cuban Ballet Company.

PBS / Mirror Dance

Well, sort of. “Mirror Dance” follows the lives of Cuban-born identical twins, Ramona and Margarita de Saá, as they navigate their roles in the Ballet and international politics. In fact, Ramona is currently the director of the Escuela Nacional de Ballet in Cuba.

21. Did we mention that the Cuban Ballet Company founder Alicia Alonso is a Prima Ballerina Assoluta?

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

For those of you who need to brush up on your ballet terms, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” is a rare title awarded to ballet dancers who have had a prestigious international career, or have given exceptional service to a particular ballet company. While there’s no universal procedure for awarding the title, usually a ballet company, government or head of state is responsible for recognizing the efforts of the ballet dancer in question. And Alicia Alonso? She’s had such a long, storied ballet career, it’s undeniable that she epitomizes the role of a Prima Ballerina Assoluta.

22. The Cuban Ballet Company’s principal venue can be found in Havana.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Great Theatre of Havana is where a lot of the Company’s performances can be seen. As much as it’s a huge effort to have to travel to Havana to see the Company in action, we can imagine that their familiarity with the stage must make their performances that much more amazing!

23. The Cuban Ballet Company is known as the “Ballet Nacional de Cuba” in Spanish.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

It makes sense, really, since it’s the top tier ballet company in Cuba.

24. The founder of the Cuban Ballet Company was still dancing into her 70s.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Alicia Alonso gave her last performance in 1993 when she was 72.

25. Some of the very first dancers at the Cuban National Ballet School include Ernesto Alvarez, Sadaise Arencibia, Elier Bourzac, and Joel Carreno.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

If you couldn’t guess, these dancers are a very big deal when it comes to ballet.

Which fact surprised you the most? Let us know on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Does Anybody Really Know What’s Supposed To Happen After You Get The Baby Jesus Figurine In La Rosca De Reyes?

Culture

Does Anybody Really Know What’s Supposed To Happen After You Get The Baby Jesus Figurine In La Rosca De Reyes?

alejandro.munoz.p / Instagram

Remember Día de Reyes when everyone cuts the rosca and hopes to god not to get the little niño Jesus? If you grew up Mexican, you probably know that whoever gets the baby Jesus figurine owes everyone tamales. But when is the tamal party? And most importantly—why? Keep reading to find out what El Día de la Candelaria means, what your abuelitas and tías are actually celebrating and how it originated —spoiler alert: it’s colonization.

February 2nd may be Groundhog Day in the United States, but in Mexico, and for many Latinos outside of Mexico, there is a completely different celebration on this date.

The religious holiday is known as Día de la Candelaria (or Candlemas in English). And on this day of the year, people get together with family and friends to eat tamales, as a continuation of the festivities of Three Kings’ Day on January 6. 

This is why your abuelita dresses up her niño Jesús in extravagant outfits.

For Día de la Candelaria it’s customary for celebrants to dress up figures of the Christ Child in special outfits and take them to the church to be blessed. Día de la Candelaria is traditionally a religious and family celebration, but in some places, such as Tlacotalpan, in the state of Veracruz, it is a major fiesta with fairs and parades.

February 2nd is exactly forty days after Christmas and is celebrated by the Catholic church as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

Alternatively, this day also counts as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The origin of this religious feast day comes from ancient Jewish tradition. According to Jewish law, a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth, and it was customary to bring a baby to the temple after that period of time had passed. So the idea is that Mary and Joseph would have taken Jesus to the temple to be blessed on February second, forty days after his birth on December 25.

The tradition goes back to around the 11th Century in Europe.

People typically took candles to the church to be blessed as part of the celebration. This tradition was based on the biblical passage of Luke 2:22-39 which recounts how when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple, a particularly devout man named Simeon embraced the child and prayed the Canticle of Simeon: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” The reference to the light inspired the celebration of the blessing of the candles.

In Mexico Día de la Candelaria is a follow-up to the festivities of Three Kings Day on January 6th.

On Día De Reyes, when children receive gifts, families and friends gather together to eat Rosca de Reyes, a special sweet bread with figurines of a baby (representing the Child Jesus) hidden inside. The person (or people) who received the figurines on Three Kings Day are supposed to host the party on Candlemas Day. Tamales are the food of choice.

This tradition also carries Pre-Hispanic roots.

After the Spanish conquistadors introduced the Catholic religion and masked indigenous traditions with their own, to help spread evangelization, many villagers picked up the tradition of taking their corn to the church in order to get their crops blessed after planting their seeds for the new agricultural cycle that was starting. They did this on February 2, which was the eleventh day of the first month on the Aztec calendar —which coincidentally fell on the same day as the Candelaria celebration. It’s believed that this is why, to this day, the celebratory feast on February 2 is all corn-based —atole and tamales.

This date is special for other reasons too… 

February 2, marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, which aligns with the pagan holiday of Imbolc. Since ancient times, this date was thought to be a marker or predictor of the weather to come, which is why it is also celebrated as Groundhog Day in the United States. There was an old English saying that went “if Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.” In many places, this is traditionally seen as the best time to prepare the earth for spring planting.

In Perú the Fiesta de la Candelaria is a festival in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of the city of Puno and it is one of the biggest festivals of culture, music, and dancing in the country.

The huge festival brings together the Catholic faith and Andean religion in homage to the Virgin of Candelaria. The Virgin represents fertility and purity. She is the patron saint of the city and is strongly associated with the Andean deity of ‘Pachamama’ (‘mother earth’). It is this common factor of both religions that brings them together for the festival. In 2014, UNESCO declared the festival an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The main dates of ‘Fiesta de la Candelaria’ are February 2nd – 12th.

A Woman Threw A Lowrider-Themed Party For Her Son’s First Birthday And It’s Just Too Much For Our Hearts

Culture

A Woman Threw A Lowrider-Themed Party For Her Son’s First Birthday And It’s Just Too Much For Our Hearts

When it comes to maintaining and seeing our Latinidad flourish, instilling a sense of pride, excitement, and curiosity in our younger generations is key. Particularly when it comes to the past. One Twitter user’s recent birthday celebrations for her son, emphasized just how much teaching the old to the new is vital.

Way back before Twitter user @whoissd’s son Silas Cash C turned 1 year old, living in Southern California crafted a car style called “lowrider” that expressed pride in their culture and presence in the states. While the brightly painted, lowriding automobiles that were outfitted with special hydraulics that made them bounce up and down saw a peak in the 1970s, they remain a big part of Chicano culture, particularly in Los Angeles.

@whoissd’s son Silas is proving that he’ll be part of a generation that will not let the culture die out recently when he celebrated his first full year with a theme that was little more unique and closer to his family’s hearts.

For her son, Silas Cash’s, first birthday, SD threw an authentic lowrider party — complete with the recognizable cruisers in attendance.

Twitter / @whoissd

On July 27, SD shared pics of the big event with her Twitter followers. The post showed baby Silas Cash cruising in his own pint-sized orange lowrider. The party came complete with several lowriders and classic cars in attendance for party-goers to check out. Since posting the adorable pics on Twitter, the message has received more than 22.5k retweets and over 138k likes.

According to SD, Silas Cash developed a fascination with lowriders because of his dad. In an email to REMEZCLA, the mom explained the connection.

“[My son’s dad] started restoring two cars to continue a bond that he had shared with his own father throughout his childhood and it’s now something that the has been introduced to our son. The lowrider culture represents family, unity, and respect to us. It really is a beautiful thing.”

The one-year old’s mini lowrider had to be specially made in Japan just for his birthday party.

Twitter / @whoissd

Silas Cash’s mom explained the decision to have the tiny lowrider made for her kiddo.

“We originally thought about getting Silas his own lowrider because of the immediate attraction he has to his dad’s Impala. With enough searching, we were able to find someone who custom makes remote-controlled pedal cars, and we were sold… Silas and his dad have matching orange ’63 Impalas with the same candy paint hardtops to match.”

Twitter was quick to react to the simply adorable party and they couldn’t stop gushing over it.

Twitter / @cali_kalypso

As this tweet points out, this party is so authentically LA. Lowrider culture started in the streets of California in the mid-to-late 1940s and the post-war ’50s. Chicano youth would lower their car’s blocks, cut spring coils and alter auto frames in order to get the lowest and slowest ride possible. Back then, this was an act of rebellion against the Anglo authorities who suppressed Mexican-American culture.

This Snoop Dog meme says it all.

Twitter / @marissaa_cruzz

We’ve seen this meme make its rounds on the internet our fair share of times but this time it 100% applies. These pics of Baby Silas Cash and his mama are some of the cutest we’ve ever seen. The added bonus of the mini Impala makes this post almost too cute to handle.

A reminder that this little man is officially the coolest kid on the block.

Twitter / @devyn_the_lame

We can just see Baby Silas Cash pulling up to the playground in this custom low rider peddle cart and being the envy of all the other rugrats. There’s no doubt that he is the most chill kiddo at daycare.

*”Lowrider” plays in the distance*

Twitter / @JGar1105

We’re getting major “The George Lopez Show” flashbacks with all this lowrider talk. Don’t you think Silas Cash needs his own theme song? Obviously, there’s only one that is cool enough for the littlest lowrider.

Other tweets pointed out that it takes a fiercely cool mom to pull off this sort of party.

Twitter / @ismokemaryjuana

We’ve got to respect SD’s mom game. She really took her vision and went for it, resulting in a fun, unique and memorable party that her guests will never forget. Great job, mom; we hope Silas Cash grows up to realize how awesome his parents are.