Cuba in Cambridge

As a Canadian, I have many friends who traveled to Cuba for vacation over the years. More recently, American friends have made the trip. I have always been intrigued, but I don’t lean toward tropical climates so Cuba goes to the bottom of my list. Art, photography, dance and culture all keep drawing me back though. Some day, I think we will go visit. There are little pieces of Cuba right here in Cambridge though and that requires no passport or travel funds so I will start there.

For a virtually immersive experience of the landscape and cultures of Cuba, I highly recommend a visit to the Museum of Science’s IMAX theatre to see the movie Cuba. There are three story lines. One is looking at the landscape and ecology of Cuba and its waters that hold secrets our overdeveloped countries can benefit from. Another, follows the culture, history, and architecture of Cuba; a country both stuck in time and yet way ahead of the rest of the world in conservation and innovation by necessity. The third story is one of dance and Cuba’s love and mastery of ballet and the arts.

Cuba is playing at the Museum of Science through June 30th, 2019

Gustazo is not a new restaurant, but it is new to Cambridge. This Cuban restaurant was one of my two favourite places to get a Cuban sandwich when Chez Henri was still around and when Gustazo was in Belmont. Gustazo then moved just out of our range and we stopped going.

Now, Gustazo has opened a new location just above Porter Square in the old Elephant Walk spot. The restaurant is festive and when you step inside you feel transported to a different place. I look forward to trying some cocktails and I know the food is good because we recently had takeout from there. This weekend we’ll dine in for a much needed date night.

Another piece of Cuba that we have in Cambridge ties back into that Cuban tradition of dance in general and ballet specifically. The artist and mastermind behind Ballet Theatre is Cuban born Jose Mateo. While the company danced their last ballet a year ago, Mr Mateo’s choreography and ballet works are still being performed.

Many students (including my daughter) are training with the ballet methods of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre. Mr Mateo’s works are also being performed by Ballet Theatre’s youth company Youthworks. This year, faculty members, former company members, and Youthworks dancers will be performing Passages as part of the Dance Saturdays series. Tickets start at $18 via Bostix/ArtsBoston and are $35 full price. VIP tickets ($125) support the program and come with a parking pass, access to the VIP tent for Dance for World Community Day, and a complimentary drink.

US Inaugural poet Richard Blanco happened to be on NPR this week and his poetry stopped me in my tracks even though I couldn’t understand all of the words because I don’t speak Spanish. Blanco was born in Spain shortly after his parents arrived there as exiles from Cuba. On May 1st the Cambridge Forum will have Richard Blanco as a guest discussing his new book How to Love a Country.

The book examines topics that are so varied and yet relevant to us all. They are news stories that flash across our screens but they are stories about real people we relate to or don’t. The point of poetry and writing is to bring us closer to that which we don’t understand and help us process that which we can relate to.

The topics include: gun violence, an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba, forced exile of Navajos, a lynching in Alabama, incarceration, love, gay marriage and so much more. In a time when many are struggling with how to love this country I cannot wait to immerse myself in this book.

The event is free and will be held in Waltham at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation. The event is currently waitlist only.

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