The night’s trip to Tropicana was amazing. All the performers were incredible. The actor Eduardo, that joined us brought up a fascinating point about the training the performers go through. These artists have been practicing their artistry, he said, since they were six/seven years old. He argued, therefore, that these professional artists, simply because they were born and trained in Cuba, have to face this ceiling, this cap, of opportunities. In other words, the professional artist is restrained to perform for tourists in a cabaret. As I further reflected on this, I’m starting to question how much this opinion comes from the fact that I am a foreigner, from a capitalist country that has been taught to value a certain form of so-called success, in comparison to a Cuban who has lived all there life in a socialist country where money may not have the same weight as it does in a hyper-capitalist country.
The show, talent, and appearance of dancers, musicians, and singers, can be summed up in one word: impressive.
A dance that represented a slave story captured my attention completely. A person with a whip entered the stage with a group wearing traditional African clothes. All the choreography represented the persecution and triumph of the identity of these people. For me, it was very interesting that Cubans do not avoid dialogue about the painful part of their history. Instead, they adopt the difficult subject as a reason for celebration through art.
We speculated on how the show would have been received in the US, especially taking into account “political correctness” and so-called “cancel culture.” We thought that in the United States the image of women dancing with fruit on their heads (like Carmen Miranda) and the sexualization of black women in the number about slavery (although, curiously, there were white slaves and the slave driver seemed mulatto or black) would have been received very critically. However, it seemed to me that these elements of the show should show us that we should maybe be more sophisticated in our cultural criticism in the US. —Diego
The visuals of Tropicana were incredible, and everything to do with the dances to the songs has an authentic Cuban or African origin it seems to me.
The show was impressive, of a very, very high quality, and it seemed to be important to the government to keep it that way. I did notice that, although there were dancers of all colors, in many cases the partnerships were between two people with similar skin tones. For example, a dance was done by a light-skinned woman with blonde hair – and her partner was a man with light skin and hair dyed blonde. And when there were many couples, in many cases it was as if they had tried to match them by skin tone or hair type. Therefore, I was left with many questions about whether Cuba has really eradicated racism as many people claimed.
The performance had the public engaged all the time. Something that I think many of us commented shortly after the performance began was that all the dancers were black. Although we hear from Luz María Reyes Collazo and others that racism does not really exist in Cuba or at least that race does not cause as much violence as it does in the United States, there is definitely a racial division. Either way, the energy and colors in the show at the Tropicana were very fun.
All the costumes of the dancers were decorated beautifully and with many colors. It was obvious that this place was elegant, not only because of the costumes but also because of the seriousness of the workers.
La Tropicana was spectacular!! The costumes were eccentric, vibrant, detailed, and scandalous. It was a highly sexualized performance. La Tropicana was strategically designed for North Americans prior to the revolution. It was conveniently located close to the airport and had everything within the resort. With this knowledge, it was evident how the costumes, musical numbers, and general setting of the show was conducive to such an environment. Each table was given a few bottles of rum and a soviet brand of coca cola to drink while the performers danced only a few feet away. The costumes were incredibly intricate and extremely scandalous.