A cabaret musical stage show awakens incomparable sensations. It dazzles, amuses, causes admiration and joy, has particularities that are not seen on other stages, therefore, it has to be attractive, far from the simple or banal.
In the opinion of Santiago Alfonso, winner of the 2006 National Dance Award, who has directed several shows at the famous Continental cabaret at the International Hotel in Varadero, the latter should be a facilitator in the culture-tourism relationship, a way to show the best of art to visitors, whether foreign or domestic.
There is controversy about the boom of this genre, which on the one hand pleases national and international tourists, and on the other hand clashes with the budgets of tourism-related chains.
Because it is evident that its staging originates obligatory expenses of scenery, costumes and lights, besides the hiring of a high quality artistic personnel, especially singers, groups and dancers.
Those performances of the 80’s of the last century in central places of the city of Matanzas have disappeared. The attempts up to the present to rescue the cabarets as close to the population have been unsuccessful.
We know of the interest shown by some artists from Matanzas to promote new projects, but the investment turns out to be very expensive and the artistic personnel still does not exist prepared for this event in correspondence with the aesthetic magnitude that is demanded in this 21st century. I do not believe that locating them in the periphery solves their majority access either.
Loss of places, exodus of artists, preference of recorded music to the live event, lack of local night transportation, are influential realities, to which is added the difficult financial situation that prevents the purchase of the indispensable accessories for the profusion of this genre, in a territory that still does not internalize the role it represents within tourism for the economic development of the city and the country, given its exceptional conditions.
However, those established in the seaside resort are still alive, although their imprint is in a few spaces. And I turn to Alfonso, because in the debates on the importance of defending the national culture, this scenic modality has been throughout history one of the Cuban symbols, with emphasis on the capital, Varadero and Santiago de Cuba.
To know the value of this universal art, it is useful to study his ideas, since he has also directed at Tropicana and the Parisién, at the Hotel Nacional.
According to his criteria: «This type of musical theater must be protected and stripped of banality. Institutional coherence is needed. It is time to resolve the art-tourism dichotomy. Find the points of convergence that solve, for example, the problems of training dancers and musicians so that choreographic creation is stimulated.»
Delving deeper into the training of the casts, he indicates, «If we want to valorize these performances in tourist institutions, it is essential to do so with academically trained dancers.»
The Continental cabaret, at the Varadero International, has been for more than 60 years a coveted stage for the most prestigious national and foreign artists. It is worth mentioning that the Failde Orchestra and the Verdarte company currently perform there on a seasonal basis.
The truth is that, for those of us who live on the shores of Guanimar, the options become less comprehensive; the only thing left, to the extent of the objective possibilities of each one, is to enjoy the Tropicana Varadero, about ten kilometers from the urban center in Matanzas.
Written by María Elena Bayón.