Sometime from now through May 20, plan for a visit to the Kennedy Center to experience Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World. The festival is a celebration of the Cuba’s “artistic richness,” showcasing it through a variety of live entertainment, art exhibits, hands-on activities for kids, fashion, films, and more.
Performances will include everything from ballet, flamenco, and modern dance to plays reflecting Cuban culture to jazz, orchestra, and a mix of other music by Cuban artists. There are both ticketed and FREE shows — every evening at 6pm, you can enjoy complimentary entertainment on the Millennium Stage as well as acts later in the evening on Thursday and Fridays See the festival schedule for details on all of the upcoming performances.
You don’t need a set time or tickets to enjoy the art exhibits or activity stations on display around the venue. The installations by a few different Cuban artists are fantastic to view, especially in the Hall of Nations and Hall of States, where the works are imaginative, quirky, and beautiful. Who knew old coffee pots, forks, stacked pots, and enormous vats could make for such marvelous art? Ot that giant spheres of bones, beans, bark, and silverware, all created as commentary on issues of today’s society, would be so compelling to examine from varying angles?
Be sure to take kids to the River Terrace, where Hybrid of a Chrysler combines an old automobile and wings of plane. And upstairs in the Nations Gallery, there is a whole family activity area designed in collaboration with the American Natural History Museum in New York. Kids can learn about Cuba’s geologic history through a variety of interactive stations. There are coloring tables, opportunities to get an up-close look at native creatures, dominos, Cuban wildlife games on iPads, and maps featuring Cuba’s national parks and baseball teams. There’s also even more art on that level, like Cuban movie posters and baseball-inspired paintings, and large installations.
One of those installations is the Cubano Club at the Terrace Gallery, designed to capture the spirit of jazz and the Afro-Cuban culture. Plan for a grown-up night out to enjoy free performances and cocktails for purchase in the transformed space — both will be available on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30pm – midnight during the festival.
A few events that children will especially enjoy, all free and happening on Saturday, May 12: A Drum Beat Parade, talks about Cuban Natural Wonders by scientist Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski, and Batucada for Cuba: From Brooklyn to Brazil, a drumming performance on the Millennium Stage.