HAVANA (Reuters) - Members of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet danced in Cuba for the first time in 30 years on Saturday in a joint performance with the Cuban National Ballet at Havana’s Karl Marx theater.
The show coincided with a visit to Cuba by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as the two Cold War allies strengthen ties that frayed after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
To the applause of an appreciative audience in dance-crazy Cuba, six Bolshoi dancers performed some of the famous company’s classic numbers from ballets such as “Swan Lake” and “Giselle.”
They alternated dances with member of the Cuban National Ballet, which is directed by ballet legend Alicia Alonso, 89.
Alonso said the return of the Bolshoi, which last performed in Cuba in 1980, was an important occasion for the communist-run island.
“We are all very happy because there is nothing more beautiful for a country than the union of artists. This is the beginning of a good friendship,” she told reporters.
Lavrov left Cuba on Saturday to continue a Latin American trip that will take him to Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.
During his visit, which began on Thursday, he met with President Raul Castro and signed diplomatic accords, including a commitment to bilateral talks with Cuba through 2011.
He said Russia and Cuba relations had become a “truly strategic association.”
Russian officials said before the visit that Lavrov and his delegation would discuss strengthening economic ties with Cuba in areas such as the electric power industry and high technology, but no accords were announced.
Lavrov, the latest in a series of Russian officials to visit Cuba over the past two years, gave a speech on Thursday to open the annual Havana International Book Fair, which this year features Russian writers.
Reporting by Jeff Franks; editing by Chris Wilson