Ballet West to be one of the first U.S. ballet companies to dance in the Festival since relations have been restored with Cuba

SALT LAKE CITY – August 25, 2016 – The International Ballet Festival of Havana, one of the oldest and most prestigious events in the world of dance, has invited Ballet West to perform at its gala, on Sunday, November 6, 2016. Organized by the National Ballet of Cuba on a bi-annual basis, Ballet West joins a distinguished group of companies who have performed at the festival in the past, including London Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, and Paris Opera Ballet. The cost of the tour has been generously underwritten by the Quinney and Lawson families who are longtime supporters of Ballet West. Ballet West will perform Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s Presto, as well as the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Rubies. It will be the first time Rubies has been performed in Cuba.

“This is a truly wonderful and exciting honor for Ballet West,” said CEO and Artistic Director Adam Sklute. “In spite of the commercial and economic embargo by the United States, the arts, and in particular, ballet continued to thrive in Cuba. In this vibrant country, ballet training and dancers are legendary in the world of dance. Politicians speak of increased trading of commodities between our countries. It is my opinion that the sharing of our art forms will lead to a better understanding of each other’s culture and people, and to a healthier long term relationship.”

Nicolo Fonte’s Presto, an edgy and passionate quartet he created on the Company in 2012, will feature Principal Dancer Katherine Lawrence, First Soloists Jacqueline Straughan and Adrian Fry, and Soloist Alexander MacFarlan. George Balanchine’s Rubies is part of a three-act program, Jewels, he created in 1967. The pas de deux will be danced by Principal Dancers Beckanne Sisk and Christopher Ruud, giving them the honor of becoming the first dancers to perform this legendary work in Cuba.

In a unique cultural exchange, every female Ballet West dancer has altruistically agreed to donate several pairs of their pointe shoes to the National Ballet of Cuba, to be presented to them on the night of the Gala performance. “Pointe shoes are incredibly difficult to obtain in Cuba,” said Sklute. “We hope this gift can be useful to their amazing dancers.”

“The families and their foundations believe this is an historic occasion and moment for Ballet West and are honored to help make this opportunity a significant event for the ballet company. Jessie Eccles Quinney and her daughter Janet Quinney Lawson and daughter-in-law Gene Quinney were devoted supporters of Ballet West and were always delighted to be able to assist in the flourishing of the arts in the state of Utah. It is with great pleasure that a new generation continues their legacy,” said Shar Quinney, a representative for the families.

Frederick Q. Lawson, another family representative noted, “This Cuba trip is a most exciting opportunity for Ballet West, and will once again show that Ballet West, who in 2002 were part of the Cultural Olympics, continues to share their gifts and talents with the world.”


Joshua Jones, Associate Director of Press and Social Media

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Photo Credit: Ballet West Principal Dancer Beckanne Sisk performing Rubies. Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Luke Isley.