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TOKYO

Feel the heat of Cuban beats

by Maho Kawabe

August’s heat can often leave you lethargic, but Havana Rakatan has a Cuban cure for the summertime blues.

Passionate Cuban music and dance are bound to get you moving again when Havana Rakatan visits the Tokyo International Forum this weekend.

Cuban music and dance contain both European and African cultural elements. That’s because Cuba was a place where both Spanish and African civilizations mingled. As the cultures slowly crossed over into one another, the mix gave the Caribbean island its own distinctive culture.

Ballet Rakatan is the dancing arm of the Havana Rakatan spectacular. They will perform various Latin-style dances ranging from the sensual rumba to the light steps of the cha-cha. The group has toured throughout Cuba and England, and was the first Cuban dance company to perform at the World Salsa Congress in Zurich.

Keeping up the musical side of Havana Rakatan is the band Turquino, which will perform traditional Cuban dance music known as son. Son has its roots in Afro-Caribbean music, and forms the basis of modern salsa. It uses instruments such as trumpets, bongos and guitars, and is thought by many to be the first music genre in which the drums were played with bare hands.

The energetic performances will have you wanting to jump on stage and dance along. If you can’t beat the heat, you might as well create some of your own.

Havana Rakatan runs from Aug. 6-15 at the Tokyo International Forum in Chiyoda Ward. Tickets are ¥5,800-¥7,800. For more information, call (03)3498-6666 or visit kyodotokyo.com/havana2010