Cuban dance troupe Malpaso performs in Philadelphia

Malpaso Dance Company

Malpaso Dance Company

A modern dance company from Cuba is coming to the Prince Theater in Philadelphia this week. Malpaso has been praised internationally for their energetic, cutting-edge work.

The company’s success is due in part to the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

“Malpaso” translates to English as “misstep” – an ironic name for a modern dance company, but one that broadcasts its youthful and contemporary mission. The company was founded four years ago to foster modern, artistic dance that is rooted in Cuban tradition.

Co-founder Fernando Saez said that best way to do that – ironically – is to work with choreographers from other countries.

“I don’t believe there is a better way of fighting our assumptions, dealing with our own clichés, expanding our artistic and human visions than through collaborations,” he said.

Malpaso is an independent non-profit dance company, one of the few not sponsored by the Cuban government. So it has to fend for itself in the global artistic marketplace.

In 2014, two years after Malpaso was founded, President Obama began to normalize relations with Cuba. In its four years, Malpaso has toured America nine times, visiting 20 cities, including four times in New York.

Although the company had begun collaborating with American artists before the thawing of political relations, Saez said it has made it easier to be successful.

“Presenters are more comfortable, the legal framework of operating is more normal, or close to normality,” said Saez. “The strange and suspicious circumstances are over, or not that prominent at least.

The future of U.S.-Cuban relations is unpredictable, as President Trump has threatened to restrict political and trade relations with the island nation. Saez has said such a move would hamper the development of modern dance in Cuba.

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