During the 2010-11 season, cultural exchange between the United States and Cuba has demonstrated marked achievements. Last fall, musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center and the dancers of American Ballet Theatre performed in front of packed Cuban audiences and offered master classes to gifted, young Cuban performers (the New York Philharmonic is planning a visit). On our shores, the electrifying musicians and dancers Los Muñequitos de Matanzas are winding up a month-long, 16-city American tour that began in Seattle in early April and concludes in New York City (May 5-7) and Purchase, New York (May 8).
For this tour, the Muñequitos—three generations of an extended family of percussionists, singers, and dancers—begin with sacred songs and dances of the Yoruba and Afro-Cuban traditions, proceed to contemporary Cuban rumba, with elaborate drumming and provocative, impassioned dance, and include, for the first time, RumbaTap, a merging of rhumba and American tap created by Bárbaro Ramos, the troupe's director, and the American tap dancer Max Pollak.
Los Muñequitos last visited the U.S. in 2002 and they caused a sensation. If their kinetic energy could be harnessed and converted to fossil fuel, the gas crisis would be over. In an instant!
Mario R. Mercado is the arts editor at Travel + Leisure