In January 2011, acclaimed New York City choreographer Pedro Ruiz returned to his native Cuba for an unprecedented collaboration: Ruiz worked with Cuba’s premiere modern dance troupe, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, to create a dance about Cuba. The project, allowed by special permission from both the U.S. and Cuban governments, led to Horizons, a spectacular half hour dance which premiered at Havana’s Mella Theater on January 28 and had a two week run at the Joyce Theater in New York City in May.
A WNET crew traveled with Ruiz to Havana (also with the permission of both the U.S. and Cuban governments) to document this cultural exchange. With our cameras rolling, we followed Pedro and the dancers though the process of creating an exquisite, innovative and deeply personal modern dance. We got to know some of Cuba’s best young dancers — as artists and as human beings. We joined Pedro on a trip to his hometown, Santa Clara, his first visit there since his family left Cuba 30 years ago. There, we filmed his exuberant reunions with his godfather, who still lives in the house where Pedro was born, and his childhood best friend.
When the dancers came to New York City, for their first ever trip to the United States, our cameras were rolling again to capture their feelings about a country most thought they would never have the chance to see.
Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home is an hour-long documentary and performance film, telling the story of Pedro’s return to Cuba and showing viewers some of the most innovative, breathtaking modern dance we have ever seen. We hope the film makes you look at dance, and at Cuba in a new way. And we hope it shows the power of art to transform lives and cross divides.
ABOUT PEDRO RUIZ
Pedro Ruiz is a renowned choreographer and dancer who was born and trained in Cuba, as well as in Venezuela. He and his family arrived in the United States in 1984, and he became a U.S. citizen ten years later. In a 21-year career as the principal dancer at Ballet Hispanico, Ruiz also choreographed three critically acclaimed ballets for the company. Ruiz has choreographed works for The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater.
Ruiz has performed at the White House for two presidents and, in 1998, he received the New York dance world’s highest honor, the Bessie Award. His dances have been called “a silky, sexy joy” by the New York Times, “especially fine work of form and structure” by the New York Post, and “timeless” by Time Out magazine. His collaboration with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba is the first time a work by a Cuban American choreographer has been performed by a Cuban dance troupe.
For information on Pedro’s future cultural exchange projects in Cuba, go to www.thewindowsproject.org.