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Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company visiting Ole Miss to share pieces of their culture and art

The Ole Miss Dance program is breaking ground and crossing new boundaries with a study abroad program taking place in Cuba.

Next month, dancers from the university will travel to the country to work with Malpaso Dance Company, an internationally renowned troupe. But first, the group will be having a residency on campus beginning this week.

From 7 to 9 p.m. tonight, Nov. 12, Malpaso will be having a welcome potluck at St Peter’s Episcopal Church. The public is encouraged to attend and bring a dish of their own.

(Photo/Malpaso Dance Company)

Throughout the week, Malpaso is hosting classes and lectures about their Cuban heritage and their art form.

Jennifer Mizenko, a professor of dance at the university, says that she came across Malpaso, and their main choreographer Osnel Delgado, while researching Cuban groups. From there, she had to go about raising the money to bring them over from Cuba.

While here, the dancers will also speak to other classes other than dance in hopes of letting the students learn more about their culture.

“With the right training, residencies by artistic companies are always multi-disciplinary,” Mizenko said. “We don’t have an opportunity here to do that so much- to reach out beyond the fine arts. I’m looking forward to the cross-pollination, they’ll be talking to political science classes and Spanish classes. They’re going to be in a sociology class. I always feel like dance is the most basic form of communication. Inside of dance are all these things like sociology and politics. I’m excited to open those doors up to the other disciplines.”

(Photo/Malpaso Dance Company)

In January, Malpaso will return to the campus for a performance in which students will also participate. But in the meantime, Mizenko is excited to show them around town this week.

“I’m also excited about this element of them getting to come here and we show them Oxford and then we’re going to get to know them in their space,” she said. “I like the ambassadorship aspect of it, in terms of opening these doors.”

Fernando Sáez, the founder and executive director of Malpaso, called playing in Mississippi for the first time “captivating.”

“It’s exciting to bring to this exchange the density of the dance legacy we come from, with the hope that this new collaboration will take us to the uncertain grounds of authentic creativity, and to a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the difference,” he said.

For a full listing of event’s, visit the Facebook page for the residency at “Malpaso Dance Company Residency: The Dancing Island.”