In conjunction with A Bailar: Dance at the Center, a three-week Latin dance festival, New York City Center hosts an array of pre- and post-show events—free for ticket holders—including lessons in flamenco, mambo, salsa and tango; an exhibit of contemporary Cuban and Cuban-American art; a panel discussion; and a tango dance party. The festival begins February 18 at 6:15pm with Havana Rakatan, a lively showcase of Cuban music and dance. Preceding the performance is “U.S.-Cuban Policy: The Artist Perspective,” a timely discussion focusing on the affect of the arts in lieu of the recent changing relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Participants include Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director of Ballet Hispanico; Rachel Weingeist, a visual-arts curator; and Pedro Ruiz, a former dancer with Ballet Hispanico who is now the associate artistic director of Endedans—the Contemporary Ballet of Camaguey. Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas moderates.
Other highlights include “Transitions: A Snapshot of Contemporary Cuban & Cuban-American Art” (February 18–March 7), an exhibit featuring Brooklyn artist Emilio Perez, Leslie Sardinias, Glenda Leòn, Alexandre Arrechea and Roberto Diago. How about digging your heels into tango or flamenco dance? Classes for all ages will be held 75 minutes before performances. Along with Havana Rakatan, the season features Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's milonga (February 26–March 1) and Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras (March 4–7). Don't forget your to bring your fan. Performance tickets start at $25.