Rosario Cárdenas sees the body as a multilateral. She dances. She moves her hands in time with the sound. She closes her eyes and vibrates with the music. She works on body fragmentation through oppositions of all parts of the human silhouette. She tries all the time to break the physical frontality. It’s like a leaf in the wind that she just gets carried away.
“In my choreographies I project the dancer as a sculpture. I look for a way that the spectator has the possibility of seeing many parts and sides in the same show”.
The Cuban dancer does not know what the key to success is. If there is a formula, it has to be related to constant work, perseverance, risk and trying above all things to be consistent with oneself.
How do you react when all eyes are on you?
“It is difficult because I am quite shy. It’s best not to think about it.”
And when no one looks at her?
“I have always been very restless. At the same time, reflective.
–Why did you choose dance?
“Nobody in my family had a profession related to art. My father was a journalist and my mother an extraordinary teacher. I chose art because I liked it, especially dance. The music too. My mother detected since she was little that she had potential and I owe her that today she is a dancer.
At that time we lived in Matanzas and I gave classical ballet classes with a teacher at the Sauto Theater. All the time I did exercises and practices, until the National School of Dance opened and my mother took the tests to enter. They approved me and I entered the specialty of Modern and Folkloric Dance.
-Why this specialty within the dance arts?
“At that time there were no schools or companies that later emerged. There was only the National School of Dance and the tests were done in classical ballet and dance. I have always thought that dance had a path of greater freedom”.
-What did passing through the National School of Dance bring to your career?
“Mainly, the link with the other manifestations of art. We all studied together: dancers, musicians, painters, actors, and we established links that remain today. We had a constant relationship and that allowed us to be close to the knowledge of those other artistic aspects”.
-What is the decision or project you have taken that you feel most proud of?
“Every play I’ve ever done. I like that moment when I make the decision to do a work. It’s hard. They are heartbreaking processes, but since they are born of oneself, they are a force of their own that sustains you”.
-What is the biggest mistake you have made?
“I dont know. I think life is what it is.”
When Rosario Cárdenas graduated from the National School of Dance, there were only three companies in the country: the National Ballet of Cuba, the National Folklore and the National Modern Dance Ensemble, which today is Contemporary Dance of Cuba. She was placed in this last artistic unit and from that moment on she dedicated all her time to dancing. Sometimes she had to teach some classes at school.
“It was exciting to come out of a school and face an audience for the first time. In that company were the dancers that Ramiro Guerra had trained and when we arrived, trained in an academy, it was something like a generational meeting. That change from student to professional life is difficult, but I was immersed in this illusion of wanting to dance all the time. We spent the day training and practicing.”
If you ask about the Cubanness in her way of dancing, the artist says that there are things that are inherent. “When you are clear that you are Cuban, that feeling comes to you whenever you are creating.”
-How do you define yourself?
“I think it is better not to define yourself because doing so limits you. It’s like being square. Dislike. I love freedom.”
How would you like to be remembered when you are gone?
“With the will”.
-Why did you decide to create your own company?
“I spent 19 years in Contemporary Dance in Cuba. At that time I began to feel the need to prepare the dancers with a personalized training. I wanted to have time for my own productions, because in a national company several of us participated in the production of a certain work, and the period of investigation was always reduced. I needed to explore not only the movement, but also the body formation in general and the investigation of the choreographic work itself.
“I created the company in 1989 as Danza Combinatoria and later in 2003, I decided to give it my name so that the identity of my work would be clearer. That decision was maintained that combinatorial dance was the method of work and creation developed by me and that I have put into practice to this day”.
-What are the characteristics of the Rosario Cárdenas Company?
“All the works that we present generally have a poetic flight. They try to convey concerns and questions to the viewer. The goal is that they always stay with something spiritual, beyond the mere fact of enjoying. That the show has some learning, even when there is the possibility that the public rejects the work, because within that same rejection there is something that moves that spectator to make his decision. The purpose is that there is knowledge behind each one of the things”.
-What is your biggest flaw?
-What do you prefer to do in your free time?
“Sometimes I improvise. I listen to music. I like to read and draw. Sightsee. Spending time with my friends. I love that”.
In 1992, Rosario Cárdenas graduated with a Gold Title as a Bachelor of Dance Art from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana. In 2013 she received the National Dance Award. In 2022 she was conferred the Order of Knight of Arts and Letters granted by the French Ministry of Culture.
The dancer does not believe that in her career there has been a moment that has meant a before and after. “Everything is a continuity. Nothing that one does in the present comes by itself; everything is woven in time. It never ends, neither in learning nor in delivery”.
Regarding teaching, he says that after 10 years dancing he began to do his first choreographies, but when he created his own company, he fully immersed himself in teaching. “I myself prepared the dancers. I trained while I danced. From there it is that my pedagogical career begins as such”.
“You work with such dedication, even more so when you’re young, that you don’t notice much effort,” he replies when you inquire about his dedication to art.
“Then, you get older and, because you have the vitality and the spirit of dedication, you end the day without realizing how much you’ve worked.”
Rosario Cárdenas says she is satisfied if she makes an overview of her life. “I am aware of all the work I have done. I have traced a path for myself and I have tried to be consistent with myself, whether people like it or not. I don’t know when people began to respect me more or value my work much more. There are just a few that add up.”
-What is your biggest dream?
“That Cuban companies would have had greater continuity in their international projection. I include the one I direct.”
-What are you scared of?
“To the mice”.
-If a new person came into your life, what can you do to get to know them better?
“Talk a lot.”
-What has community work meant?
“When we started in the National Company, a very beautiful job of raising awareness with the public was done. Although they were not called that, they were great community activities and thanks to them the public in the dance grew. Platforms were put up in the open air in many places and we danced there. We went to the military units and acted. Gradually they began to take us seriously. At the time we didn’t know we were building an audience.
“Those were times when there were practically no dance companies. Times when we only had five viewers at a show. Later, the theaters were packed thanks to that same formation. At that time, culture was shared with the public; It was understood that it had to be given a high aesthetic level, not only what the public wanted, unlike today that sees that adjustment between what I want to teach and what the public wants to receive. That has to be put on a scale.”
What would you like to do that you’re not doing right now?
“I no longer have the same confidence in myself to dance with greater dimension. At this age one does not respond in the same way. There are times when I think about how much I would like to play a certain role, but one is not aware that you do not have the vitality that it carries. You always have to know how to retire on time.”
-If everything disappeared and you could rescue only one thing, what would it be?
There is no specific work that Rosario Cárdenas points out as “the one that cost her the most work” because of that love with which she has always danced.
“I worked with many choreographers in the National Company, and later in the group that I direct I have done many choreographies for myself, where I developed the personal language where I felt most comfortable. I danced ‘Noctario’, ‘María Vivan’, and many others. Playing each of those roles enriched me artistically speaking.”
The dancer has many definitions about dance. If she has to choose one, she says that it is a multisensory space that is drawn, and at the same time, there comes a time when it becomes ephemeral.
He loves all manifestations of art; if she was not a dancer she would dedicate herself to painting, but she chose the movement of the body as her way of life. Dance has not taken anything away from Rosario Cárdenas. She has given him pleasure, love and the satisfaction of knowing the human being from a broader dimension. From that she that she only knows when she closes her eyes and starts to dance.
On video, Rosario Cardenas