Festival of Light 2016, Jerusalem

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

Now in its 8th installment, the annual Jerusalem Festival of Lights is scheduled this year for May 25-June 2.

The festival takes place in Jerusalem’s Old City and last year drew 250,000 visitors during its week-long run. Local and international artists contribute light sculptures, sound and light displays, images and videos projected on walls, street performances, and stage acts.

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

Brilliant light and color playing against dark stone walls and penetrating the labyrinthine heart of the ancient city is magical. If you’re in town during the festival, don’t miss it! Lights are ablaze every night 8-11pm, except Friday. Entrance is free of charge.
Bring a light sweater.

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

image from iTravelJerusalem.com

Information below is copied from iTravelJerusalem.com and describes some of the highlights of this year’s festival:

Prince of the Lights
Created by French artist Damien Fontaine, this installation is inspired by the classic children’s book “The Little Prince” and tells the story of a prince destined to return light to the world.
Where: The Christian Information Center, The Armenian Patriarchate Street, Old City, Jerusalem

Photographia — Painting with Light
Martin Adin of Pyromania paints abstracts on the walls of the Old City.
Where: Near Jaffa Gate, Old City, Jerusalem

Colorful Origami
Childhood memories meet aesthetic design as Italian artists Gloria Ronchi and Claudio Behngi present dozens of handmade origami pieces colored with LED lights inside.
Where: The Armenian Patriarchate Street, Old City, Jerusalem

Pictures in Motion
The Jerusalem AVS group presents a stunning visual show featuring a robot dancing as the lights create the different seasons around it.
Where: Hurva Square, Old City, Jerusalem

Centro Pro Danza, Havana, Cuba

Centro de Promoción de la Danza, better known as Pro Danza, is a world-renown center for the study and performance of dance located in Havana, Cuba. Since its founding in 1988, the center has been under the direction of revered ballet dancer and teacher Laura Alonso, the daughter of famous Cuban ballet dancers Alicia and Fernando Alonso.

The school’s reputation draws professional dancers and dance teachers from around the world to its workshops, but, above all, the center is about sharing a love of dance and enthusiasts of all ages and abilities are welcomed, whether or not they aspire to a career in dance. Training is based on the methodology and technique of the Cuban School of Ballet, which began in the 1930s as a distinctive and highly respected approach derived from older European and American methods. Pro Danza consistently produces dancers for major companies around the world.

Pro Danza is not only about ballet, but nurtures dance of all sorts and includes training and performance companies in folkloric dance, modern dance, jazz and hiphop. Pro Danza companies perform around the globe but, as a big part of the center’s mission is to foster the love of dance in the Cuban people, performances are staged regularly across the island.

For interested Ya’lla travelers to Cuba, we can arrange a visit to Pro Danza to meet some of the dancers and take in a performance.

Ediciones Vigia, Matanzas, Cuba

cover of Celare Navis y Otros Poemas by Cuban writer Antón Arrufat, from the University of Missouri collection

cover of Celare Navis y Otros Poemas by Cuban writer Antón Arrufat, from the University of Missouri collection http://www.lib.umich.edu/onlineexhibits/exhibits/show/main/ediciones-vigia/ev2

Named for the Plaza de la Vigía (Watchtower Square), which it overlooks from an airy colonial house, Ediciones Vigía is a collective publishing house in the provincial town of Matanzas, Cuba, about a 90 minute drive east of Havana.

Founded by poet, painter and stage designer Rolando Estévez Jordán and poet Alfredo Zaldívar in 1985 as a meeting place for writers and visual artists, Ediciones Vigía later evolved into an outlet for writers who were overlooked by the large publishing houses in Cuba. The mission was twofold – to circulate unknown literary voices in Cuba and to interpret and underscore those voices visually, creating distinctive, textual art-objects and installations in the process. In addition to little-known Cuban writers, Ediciones Vigía publishes illuminated editions of the works of famous writers like Emily Dickenson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges and Cuban poet Nancy Morejón. Continue reading

Afrocuba de Matanzas

Afrocuba de Matanzas is a folkloric group, whose members are directly descended from West Africans brought to Cuba as slaves. The group formed in 1957 with a mission to preserve their African cultural heritage through performances (including world tours and recording), as well as lectures and workshops. The city of Matanzas, about 2 hours from Havana, is Cuba’s main center of Afro-Cuban traditional culture and Afrocuba is widely acknowledged as among the most authentic traditional Afro-Cuban music groups.

Slaves in Cuba were allowed to gather in tribal and ethnic groups to practice their traditional religions, which involved dancing, drumming, chanting and call and response. Afrocuba performs these rituals in their pure forms as well as music and dance genres which descended from them, in combination with Spanish and Caribbean traditions. Instruments, all percussion, are handmade in the traditional ways using traditional materials.

Meet Afrocuba de Matanzas and watch them perform on a Ya’lla tour to Cuba.


Artist Corner – Damian Aquiles

Cuban artist Damian Aquiles is best known for his walking man figures cut from scrap metal and arranged in various evocative groupings, but his art takes many forms.
Damian works mainly with recycled metal from old car parts, water tanks, and paint cans, time-worn, battered materials, which add character and depth to his compositions.

Visitors are welcomed into the home-gallery Damian shares with his American wife Pamela Ruiz and their son. The couple spent years acquiring and restoring their villa in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Today the villa is a gathering place for art, artists and art-lovers.

Contact Damian Aquiles.

Book a Ya’lla tour to Cuba and visit the home/gallery of Damian Aquiles in person.