The Windows Project was created by Choreographer Pedro Ruiz to foster cross-cultural opportunities for understanding and dialogue through the creation and performance of dance. The story of The Windows Project not only mirrors Ruiz’s personal journey, but also captures a larger cultural moment of global dimension.
Developing bi-cultural endeavors involving both American and Cuban artists allows Ruiz to give back to his land and is central to his creative vision and personal commitment, as well as the core motivation for the creation of The Windows Project. The commission with Danza del Alma was particularly meaningful to Ruiz as it marked not only his return to his hometown, Santa Clara, but to the Teatro La Caridad, where he first performed at age six and where El Camino premiered.
The first stage of The Windows Project began in January 2011 when the renowned Cuban-American choreographer Pedro Ruiz returned to Cuba for his first professional collaboration with Cuban dancers. A partnership among The Windows Project, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, and the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, the project was developed during a unique, month-long creative process involving American and Cuban dance professionals that culminated with the World Premiere of Horizonte at Teatro Mella in Havana, Cuba, on January 28, 2011. This critically acclaimed dance piece, the first choreography ever created by a Cuban-American on a Cuban company, premiered in the U.S. in May, 2011, as part of the first-ever national tour for Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, including a two-week run at The Joyce Theater in New York.
Ruiz’s trip to Cuba and Horizonte’s creation process was documented by WNET/13. The film crew also followed the choreographer as he visited his hometown of Santa Clara, where he was reunited with extensive friends and family members he hadn’t seen in almost 30 years. The result was Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home, an hour-long, breathtaking, moving documentary that premiered on September 29, 2011—garnering great ratings and holding onto the most-watched online video at Thirteen.org for over a week.
The Windows Project and Ruiz embarked on a second commission to create an original dance work, this time for the Cuban dance company Danza del Alma. Ruiz premiered El Camino at Teatro La Caridad in Santa Clara, Cuba, on January 27, 2012. Working alongside Ruiz was award-winning lighting designer Kyle Rosenberg. Ruiz had brought costumes created especially for the occasion by Broadway costume designer Harry Nadal. Original music for the new choreography was composed by Aaron Jaffe and performed by Julliard professor, Laura Goldberg.
In addition to creating this new work Ruiz gave open master classes to the dance community in Santa Clara, as well as master classes for the students associated with Danza del Alma’s dance school. This multi-layered project was also organized in partnership with the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba.
Plans are in the works for future collaborations between Ruiz, The Windows Project and other regional Cuban dance companies around the island. The groundwork is being laid now between the U.S and Cuba for Danza del Alma to tour the U.S. in 2013 performing El Camino and additional company repertoire. As part of the tour Ruiz will conduct ballet and Cuban folkloric dance master classes, bringing together Cuban and American dance professionals, as well as offering lecture demonstrations for students.