With programs to preserve and disseminate customs, popular culture, dance, gastronomy, and traditions, Merida captivated Havana. The Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), one of the most popular cultural centers in Cuba where different artistic manifestations converge daily, was the venue for three intense days of activities in which Cubans of all ages and visitors of different nationalities learned about and approached the richness of Yucatecan traditions.
Director of Culture Irving Berlín Villafaña headed the Yucatecan delegation and Mayor Renán Barrera Concha’s mandate to continue generating alliances, strengthening ties and sharing traditions and art that will continue to position Mérida as a cultural reference in the country and the world. He celebrated the attendance of more than four thousand people to the “Mérida en La Habana” program at La Fábrica.
Celebrations such as Hanal Pixán (Food with the souls) were part of the feature presentation in Havana, which is a unique type of rite in all of Latin America.
Present at the opening ceremony of “Merida in Havana” were Anthropologist Irving Berlin Villafaña, Director of Culture of the Merida City Council, composer X Alfonso, creator of the Art Factory and Latin Grammy 2022 nominee, as well as Miguel Hernandez, from Casa de Mexico; Santiago Ruy Sanchez, cultural attaché of the Mexican Embassy in Cuba, among other guests.
As part of the day of activities that took place from November 3 to 5, the Yucatecans shared their knowledge in the workshops on the makeup of “Catrinas” and “Ánimas”, Yucatecan folklore and the Jarana regional dance, the history of the Vaquería, its origins and even some dance steps that many young Cubans performed with joy.
The regional dance presentation captivated the public in the three performances offered by members of the Ballet Folklorico del Ayuntamiento de Merida, the skill of the Yucatecan Jaraneras amazed the attendants. On this occasion, the dancers wore “ánimas” make-up inspired by the Catrinas of José Guadalupe Posadas, and wore colorful huipiles.
The artistic exchange was also evident in the Fashion Show “From Mérida to Havana”, with the proposals of the brands In Love México, Mazehual and Soy Yucateca, with contemporary fashion designs that reflected the creativity and talent of Yucatecan designers. Guillermo Alayón was in charge of the direction. A pair of intercultural stilt-walkers joined in the dances and the fashion show, which prompted many visitors to the factory to take souvenir photographs.
The presence of the National Chambers of the Restaurant and Food Industry (CANIRAC) Yucatan and the Clothing Industry (CANAIVE) were part of the cultural exchange with the Caribbean island. Different regional snacks captivated the palate of Cubans and visitors, as well as the proposals of the textile industry.
The Yucatecan group’s stay was complemented by a visit to Cuba’s National Schools of Dance, Music, and Circus Arts to learn about the teaching programs and the different techniques, skills, and didactics, and to articulate exchange tools to be applied in the future in Merida’s teaching centers, such as the Municipal Dance Center. The high level of Cuban students was evident during the demonstrations they offered to the Yucatecans.
A meeting was also held with the Cuban Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso Grau, with whom impressions were exchanged about the culture of both cities.
Another captivating element was the representation of a traditional altar with the necessary things to remember the deceased, which included flowers, candles, a cross, and images, without missing the favorite food of those who are no longer with us.
The activities also included a visit to the Plaza de Armas, one of the most emblematic squares in Old Havana, which also witnessed a presentation of Yucatecan Jaranas by the Ballet Folklorico. During the presentation, the jaraneros performed well-known Jaranas such as “La Angaripola”, “La Mestiza”, “Mi lindo Motul”, “Renán y Aldair”, “Las mujeres que se pintan”, “El Torito” and then they chanted Yucatecan “bombas“.
The visual arts were present with the exhibition “Los Mayas Eternos” (The Eternal Maya), with 20 photographs in which Yucatecan photographer Pedro Tec captured the current faces of the Maya culture in a series of images intervened with digital drawing. The collection will remain on display for the rest of November at the Art Factory’s Photo Library. in Havana, Cuba.
With these activities, the Mérida City Hall ratifies the intercultural relations, celebrates the creativity and cultural identity between the Yucatecan and Cuban capitals.