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Edgar Anigo: Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Cuban Powerhouse….

February 8, 2013
Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Cuban Powerhouse Edgar Anido. Photo by Jae Man Joo

Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Cuban Powerhouse Edgar Anido. Photo by Jae Man Joo

Having seen Edgar Anido perform with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and being just blown away with his power-packed performances, I knew I wanted to meet him and pick his brain about his training in Cuba and about his experiences here in the United States.

Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, he began his studies at the age of nine. He has worked with choreographers such Dwight Rhoden, Jerry Opdenaker, Alberto Mendez and Oswaldo Beiro. Mr. Anido was named Best Male Partner in the 1999 International Ballet Competition in Havana as well as the winner of the Silver Medal and a Special Mention for Interpretation at the Contemporary Dance Competition, Solo Para Duos in 2001.  He participated in the 2006 USA International Ballet Competition/Jackson, Mississippi, and won the 2008 World Ballet Competition’s Choreographer Award in Orlando, Florida. He joined Complexions Contemporary Ballet in 2008.

I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Anido at the Broadway Dance Center. He is as eye-catching off-stage as he is own, he came wearing a short black Top Hat with a red feather on  its side….it was quick to draw the eye…(I was little envious…it was a nice hat…).

Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Edgar Anido in the foreground. Photo by Bill Hebert

Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Edgar Anido in the foreground. Photo by Bill Hebert

I want to talk to you about Cuba, your training in Cuba and what that was like….

I started classical training at the age of nine at E. V. A. “Olga Alonzo”, it was a vocational school for the Arts. Later I was chosen to join Alicia Alonzo’s school; Ms. Alonzo is also the director of the National Ballet. She is the face of classical ballet in Cuba.

At twelve I went to Havana to dance and I stayed there till I graduated and then I went for three years to the National School of Ballet. I graduated from the National School when I was eighteen and I auditioned for the National Ballet with Alicia Alonso but I did not get in. They were looking for dancers that were taller than I was, I am 1.73 (5’6”) meters. But everything happens for a reason; I got into the second largest company in Cuba after the National Ballet, the Camaguey Ballet.

I worked very hard at the Camaguey Ballet and did very well there for the two years I was there. I traveled and danced with the company as a Soloist. In Cuba you get your training for free but after you must work for two years at minimum salary to repay for your schooling.

After those two years went to work as a Principal Dancer in the Central Theatre Ballet of Guayaquil in Ecuador. It was a purely classical company and they gave me a six month contract. After I returned home,. it was at this time that I decided to leave Cuba. I left Cuba because I wanted to grow as an artist, I felt stuck in my career. I wanted the opportunity to do something more. I had always loved the work of Danza Nacional de Cuba. I always loved modern/contemporary dance.

I knew I always wanted to come to the United States…when I was in school everyone told me what don’t you just become a teacher just because I am small, but I am stubborn.

In 2005 I joined the Ballet Gamonet in Miami and I was there for three years. I have been doing well in the States… In 2006 I got the opportunity to participate in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2008 I won an award for my choreography at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida. It was for my contemporary piece “Here Without You”.

What was it like leaving Cuba?

I was hard telling my mother that I was leaving and not coming back, just as I was about to board the plane, my father became very upset but my mother calmed him down for fear that someone would become curious as to what was happening and not allow me to leave. I was 21 then and it was a difficult decision but it was something I felt I had to do.

What was the modern dance scene like in Cuba…?

The modern dancers in Cuba are classically trained…there are some good dancers…they perform modern but they are trained in ballet. There is a lot of fusion of styles, with Afro-Cuban, with contemporary, merged with modern and ballet both. It’s a unique blend with folkloric influences.

The Cuban School of Ballet is heavily influenced by Russia, what was that like?

The training is Vaganova based… much like Balanchine’s technique is taught at the American School of Ballet…the same is done in Cuba to create what we call the Cuban School. We adapted and altered the Vaganova Technique for Cuban sensibilities, we no longer pirouette with the foot in front of the knee but to the side….One of the things we had to change were the approaches to partnering, the women of the Caribbean and South America are more curvaceous…so some of  the approaches had to be altered a little…we just refined things as needed…

On You-tube there is a beautiful duet with you and Andres Figueroa, can you tell me about it…..

That is Purple Bend, it was when I was in Miami and dancing with Ballet Gamonet. It was choreographed by the Artist Director Jimmy Gamonet, it’s a very athletic work that I enjoyed doing…

What it’s like dancing with Complexions Contemporary Ballet?

Dancing at Complexions has been amazing, I have learned so much from Dwight Rhoden. Dwight challenges me both as a dancer and as a choreographer. I love what I do…I get to push myself, not only as a classical dancer but as a contemporary dancer as well. Working with Dwight, he allows his dancers to explore his movement, to make it our own. Sometimes each movement is unique for each dancer. He gives us a lot of freedom for experimentation….he is not rigid in that “I want the arms here” but he is more about how do you move your arms, how do you get from there to here.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Edgar Anido. Photo by Liza Voll

Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Edgar Anido. Photo by Liza Voll

What is your favorite piece in the company to dance?

Sometimes Dwight asks me what dance is becoming easier for you to dance and I tell him it is never easy… because as I grow into the piece I realize there is more that I can do within the work, more that I want to do…

But my favorite piece in the company, I have been with them for four years and I do not really have a favorite, I like all the work, I enjoy dancing the repertory.

Rise was fun to do and I enjoyed dancing it, but it was a difficult work, you needed strong stamina to dance it, there was running, jumping, everything is non-stop. That is one of the things I love about Complexions and about Dwight’s choreography, the men really get to dance.

I think what I love the most about Complexions is the process, the way Dwight works with each dancer to figure out the choreography, what works and what does not. Getting to that point of the WOW moment, that moment when it all comes together….I stand back and think wow, I was a part of that…I was part of an idea that developed into a full dance, a beautiful expression of movement…if I believe in the dance, I know I can make the audience believe in it as well….

…and that is what Edgar Anido does, he makes your believe that every moment he is on stage it is a unique experience that he shares from his heart….each time he dances you get a brief glimpse of his exposed soul…That takes a very brave artist!

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