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Baseball and Ballet Ambassadors from West Hartford Head to Cuba with Teen Cultures Connect

USA vs. Cuba game and opening ceremony at University of Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Teen Cultures Connect has expanded its Cuba cultural program to include Hartford area teens who will bridge barriers through baseball as well as ballet.

Hartford City Ballet performs in the opening ceremonies of the USA-Cuba Goodwill Tour. University of Hartford. July 11, 2016. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

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Teen Cultures Connect (TCC), now in its third year, has announced the expansion of its Cuba cultural program to include baseball and ballet teen ambassadors who hail from West Hartford, Hartford, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Newington, and other area towns.

On April 7, 2018, a group of 45, including parents, coaches, dance instructors ,and siblings of 13 teen baseball players and six ballet dancers will fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Havana, Cuba, for a one-week cultural tour.

The purpose of the trip is educational and to promote goodwill among Connecticut teen ambassadors and their Cuban counterparts. Participants will grow in their understanding of the world and will experience the Cuban culture through interaction with the Cuban people using the countries’ shared passions of baseball and ballet.

The West Hartford and Cuban kids will connect via baseball games and at ballet performances and instruction. For two of the four baseball games, Cuban and American players and coaches will mix, as will American and Cuban ballet dancers and instructors, in both instances relying primarily on the international languages of baseball and ballet.

The addition of ballet to this year’s program began with an idea that retired Major League Baseball player and Hartford resident, Doug Glanville, shared two years ago with TCC’s founder and president, Tim Brennan. “We were looking for a dance performance for our opening ceremonies when we hosted our friends from Cuba in 2016 and Doug told me about local professionals who had background in Cuban ballet.” Doug introduced Brennan to former American Ballet Theater professionals, Dartanion Reed and Keiko Nakamura, the husband and wife team who own and operate The Hartford City Ballet. “We are thrilled to expand our program to include our countries’ shared interest in ballet and I couldn’t have asked for better partners than The Hartford City Ballet.”

The baseball team will play four games and the ballet dancers will have four classes/performances with Cuban ballet dancers. The group will visit a variety of cultural landmarks including The Museum of the Slave Route, a walking tour of the old city, and will also participate in some community service.

The baseball team will meet Cuban baseball greats, pitcher Lazaro de la Torre and slugger Lazaro Junco. The ballet group and others will attend a ballet and contemporary dance performance by the Acosta Danza at the Great Theatre, the seat of the National Cuban Ballet in Havana.

“Each of our experiences in Cuba has been different, but with the customized and culturally rich program provided by our new tour operator, Cuba Educational Travel, I know our kids will have an unforgettable, if not life-changing, experience,” said Brennan.

Teen Cultures Connect, a charitable organization, is raising money from families, friends and businesses to sponsor some of its participants for need-based scholarships.

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