FEATURE DOCUMENTARY (55min)
DIRECTED BY MADELEINE DUBA
"A nostalgic arthouse documentary telling the true story of the five
best dancers and choreographers of Cuba’s 1950s Tropicana Cabaret dance company."
©WATUSI DANCE 2020
We are introduced via a series of stunning 1950’s unseen archived colour footage of the
Tropicana dancers whilst meeting Tropicana director Joaquin M. Condall and Artistic Director Santiago Alfonso of the thriving club in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
We begin in the 60s with footage of Fidel Castro’s leadership.
We are then introduced to each dancer reminiscing today about their careers as young dancers at the Tropicana cabaret. They detail how their bodies have changed over the years but they still live and breathe the memory of this uniquely Cuban way of life. We see how their staggering athleticism survives to the present day when they are now in their 60s and 70s. This this is montaged with their anecdotal accounts of the heyday of the Tropicana Club.
These character introductions are woven within clips of Cuba’s living streets where dancing, singing and happiness seem constantly in evidence despite the clear lack of resources.
We then meet choreographers and musicians who played a key part in the Tropicana becoming a world-renowned show that toured London, New York, Paris and Monaco to name a few big stages.
Grand Cuban Artistic Directors with over 60 years of dance experience like Santiago Alfonso, Tomas Morales, Armando Perez Sanchez, Rafael Hernandez, Andres Gutierrez and Gilberto Boza tell theirs stories behind the scenes that were never shown on screen.
There is a focus on the key components behind the art and we see what goes into organising Carnival and how fundamental this is to the soul of the people who design the costumes, the performers and organisers.
The narrative may be a nostalgic lament of a culture and youth that no longer exists, but the message is an optimistic fundamental belief that Cuba will constantly renew and invent itself. After all they say, “it’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” Our final image is of the new and hopeful generation of Cubanistas dancing together.