La tecnica cubana: A revolution in dance

Date of Completion

January 2007


History, Latin American|Dance




This dissertation examines the ways in which Cuban cultural, political and economic forces helped create a new dance form, "la técnica cubana," the Cuban modern dance technique, and in turn looks at how those same forces have been addressed by the form, repertory and practitioners of Cuban modern dance. La técnica cubana was created after the Revolution of 1959 with an unusual degree of intentionality and backing by the Revolutionary government, an approach which, this dissertation argues, has helped to create a sense of national, professional, and personal identity for Cuban modern dancers. This paper examines how técnica was conceived with the intentional goal of creating a distinctly Cuban modern dance form, representing a cross-section of Cuba's multi-cultural population. It details how técnica incorporates a plurality of dance influences, from Afro-Cuban, Ballet, North American modern dance, flamenco and cabaret forms. This approach is artistically and ideologically distinct from that of the major North American and European modern dance forms that tend to represent the artistic vision of a single individual. These distinctions profoundly affect the development, dissemination and artistic production of Cuban modern dance, as well as the role and status of its practitioners. ^ This dissertation focuses on the período especial, what Fidel Castro has referred to as a "special period in times of peace," a time of stringent economic restraint that began in the early 1990s. It looks at the profound impact that period had on daily life both inside and outside of the dance studio and asks how the political and economic changes brought on by the Special Period affected the repertory and dissemination of Cuban modern dance. ^ Incorporating an inter-disciplinary approach to historical and theoretical scholarship, this paper aims to show how state support, cultural and socio-economic validation, and standards of artistic excellence for dance in Cuba created a modern dance form, a repertory that continues to address the changes that roil Cuban society, and a sense of identity and value for Cuban dancers. ^