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A Tribute to Idalberto Bandera Sido

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A Tribute to Idalberto Bandera Sido

Idalberto Bandera Sido has recently retired from being the director and driving force behind Ballet Folklorico Cutumba in Santiago de Cuba. He started his professional career as a dancer with the Folklorico de Oriente in 1976 before joining and receiving First Dancer status with Cutumba some years afterwards, while also being trained as a specialist teacher in Afro-Haitian-Cuban dance. Idalberto was nicknamed ‘The Hurricane’ for his intense energy and vitality when performing live and this characteristic energy continued throughout his career.

In 1987, Jorge Lefebre, the well known director and choreographer of the Belgian Royal Ballet company selected Idalberto as the principal soloist for the ‘Erzili’ performance, and in 1991 he was again officially recognised as an outstanding solo performer.

He reached the top level of professional choreography in Cuba and is also an accomplished percussionist.  In 1993 he received the Martha Graham prize from UNEAC (Union Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba) for his work in training professional dancers and was invited to become a member of UNEAC in 1998, a body whose members comprise the top artists and writers in Cuba. Since 1999, his choreography has been performed in festivals around the world and throughout the nation. He has received the Raúl Gomez Garcia medal for his dedication to the development of Cuban Culture and won the Cuban National Choreography prize in 2004 for his dance choreography ‘Saga Loas’. Other works that were critically acclaimed were his ‘Estampa del Carnaval Santiaguero’ and ‘Bembe a Oggun’.

In 2006 he was recognised at a Cuban national level for his contribution to cultural life in in the country, and in 2011 he was recognised again by UNEAC, the Casa del Caribe and other institutions for his 35 years of dedication to Cuban culture. In 2015 he was selected to represent Santiago de Cuba in the archive of top artistic personalities in the province. In 2019 he was given the key to the City of Santiago de Cuba.

Idalberto’s upbeat attitude and energy is legendary and his passion for Cuban culture (especially for the Cutumba company which he directed for 24 years) will never be forgotten. Rightly recognised as one of the key figures in Cuban dance over the last 30 years, Caledonia would like to congratulate Idalberto Bandera Sido for his incredible artistic career and unwavering involvement in the advancement and promotion of Cuban culture. We would also like to thank him personally for his ever -constant support of our dance and music holidays and international dance projects since we started working in Santiago de Cuba 25 years ago. Enjoy your retirement and GRACIAS, MAESTRO!

About the Author
Kath Bateman founded Caledonia in 1996 and still has a very active role in the company. As a linguist and avid traveller, Caledonia brings together many strands of Kath’s personal and professional interests. She is a Modern Languages and Tourism graduate and has worked as a tour leader and trilingual guide, ski rep and salsa teacher, cultural events organiser, salsa club promoter and English language teacher. She lived and studied in France and Austria and has travelled widely elsewhere in Europe, Latin America and particularly in Cuba. Kath is still very much involved in the business and is as motivated by what Caledonia does as when she first set up the company in the spare room at home all those years ago.