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Straz Center Brings US Premiere of Habana Compas

Apr 21, 2016

Javier Burgos, General Manager of Habana Compas Dance, says you can't take the music out of Cuba.

It's as natural as a beating heart.

"The Cuban people are all the time playing music or singing -- for any things happens, the Cubans make a party and it's difficult to take off the Cuban people from the music," he said. "If you can play music in some place, you know who are Cuban and who are not."

Habana Compas Dance is making its American debut today (April 22) in Tampa, at the Straz Center. Programming director Georgiana Young said the company wouldn't have come to the United States had it not been for Tampa community members who saw the company perform in Cuba.

"They fell in love with this company and said, 'you have to bring them,' and that was almost a year ago," Young said. "It's individuals like Manny Fernandez and Mike Mauricio and the Hill Ward Law Firm, who all banded together and raised money to help support this."

Habana Compas Dance melds modern, flamenco and traditional Spanish dance with Afro-Cuban beats.

For their premiere performance in Tampa, performers will incorporate every day objects, such as chairs Burgos made in Tampa with rawhide and wood, and drums fashioned from sheepskin stretched over heavy-duty cardboard cylinders. Burgos said the chairs and drums are being painted to illustrate the connection between the cities of Havana and Tampa.