The Aotearoa Cuban Festival kicks off today in Rotorua with a wide range of free classes throughout the city.
The community programme is packed with free activities to give locals an opportunity to check out demonstrations and performances and join classes in Cuban Dance and Latin Fitness held at the QE Health, Farmers Market, and at the Night Market led by Rotorua resident, Cuban-born Greydis Montero Liranza.
Trustee and creative director Greydis says she is excited to be able to bring this programme to the Rotorua community and share her passion and knowledge about Cuba and its dances with everyone.
“People discover a lot of joy and happiness when they dance. Sometimes life can be a struggle, but they feel uplifted after classes. They leave with a big smile - it is a beautiful way to embrace life.”
The community program runs from Sunday February 11 through to Thursday February 22, culminating in the three-day festival for those finding an interest in Cuban dance and wanting to see more, and for those that are looking to further their skills.
The inclusive Cuban dance taster with interactive entertainment of fun for all ages will be at Farmers Market on February 11 and 18, from 10am and the Rotorua Night Market on February 15 from 6.3 pm.
There are also free Latin cardio and Latin sculpt classes at QE Health (Lakeside entrance) Tuesday February 13 at 6pm, and Thursday February 22 at 10am.
Several international Cuban artists led by Greydis will also descend on the Rotorua Night Market on February 22 from 6pm as they warm up for the festival.
A spectacular showcase of Cuban and Latin dance will be presented at Crates ‘n Cues on February 24 followed by a Cuban dance party. The best professional Cuban dancers from Australasia are performing, as well as Kiwi Latin dancers of all ages. Tickets only $25 available at the door.
“Cuba is a magical amazing place. Dance and rhythm is life to Cubans. When you watch them dance and play music you feel their joy and experience with them. Our festival and the community program is all about sharing this with joy with locals and the wider dance community,” says New Zealand Cuban Festival Trust chairperson Kate Maguire.
The Festival is sponsored this year by the New Zealand Communities Trust (NZCT), the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, First Sovereign, Southern Trust and the Creative Communities Rotorua Scheme. This funding has enabled the Festival's Trust to bring international dancer instructors to the festival and run free classes in local high schools and the community based events.
Aotearoa Cuban Festival is the biggest community based Cuban dance and music event in New Zealand. It has been running the last five years in Rotorua.