Danza Voluminosa – Cuba’s Plus-Size Dance Group

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If you thought the world of ballet dancing was reserved exclusively for the slim and petit, well, it’s time to think again. Because the Cuban dance troupe ‘DanzaVoluminosa’ (literally meaning Voluminous Dance) is here to prove you wrong. Comprising of eight dancers and a combined total weight of over 1,600lbs (more than 200lbs per dancer), these heavy beauties have taken the tutu way past its traditional size ‘zero’.

In a recent video report on DanzaVoluminosa by the Associated Press, the founder of the troupe Juan Miguel Mas explains, “The most important thing is that it elevates the self-esteem of the overweight. It helps them to not be sedentary and get out and move, live, work, investigate and love their bodies, too.” Juan says that the purpose of the dance troupe is to find harmony, and the fulfillment of being human. The group was founded way back in 1996 and had been a hit in Cuba ever since. In 2004, it was the subject of a documentary film called Defying Gravity. Hailing from Cuba’s capital city of Havana, the group is focused on breaking traditional stereotypes and giving overweight performers a chance to realize their dreams. The dance troupe is the brainchild of Juan Miguel, who wanted to find a way to adapt modern dance techniques to suit the physical possibilities of overweight people. It has so far produced three full-length choreographies and thirty shorter works. The latest offering from DanzaVoluminosa is called ‘Crisalidas’ or ‘Chrysalis’.

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Cuban Sculptor Proves Tobacco Can Be Used for Better Things than Smoking and Chewing

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Janio Nunez is a talented Cuban artist who has the gift of making incredible sculptures exclusively from tobacco leaves. He creates works of art both tiny and life-size that prove there are better things to do with tobacco than smoking it.

Janio’s fascination with tobacco began as a little boy, watching his grandparents roll cigars at the factory. He started copying them and ended up becoming a tobacco leaf roller himself. He worked at the factory, but after passing evaluations, he was sent to Varadero, Cuba’s largest resort in Cuba, to roll cigars for tourists. Everything was normal until one day when something really strange happened. He began seeing his co-workers like they were made entirely of tobacco leaves. He would get scared and close his eyes, and when he opened them they were normal again, dressed in their regular clothes. Then would turn around and see another colleague sitting down, all made of tobacco (clothes, face, skin, etc.). This happened sporadically for about four months, and his friends even took him to see a doctor about his “problem”. That didn’t help very much, and realizing something was wrong with him, he decided to do somehow fix things himself.

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Cuban Hand-Rolls the World’s Longest Cigar

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The world’s longest cigar measures 81.80 meters and was rolled by cigar-maker Jose Castelar Cairo, better known as “el Cueto”.

Jose Castelar and his assistants started working on the giant Cuban cigar at the end of April and finished on Tuesday, May 3rd. British representatives from the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged that the 67-year-old cigar rolling master has set a new world record, beating the previous one (also set by el Cueto) of 60 meters.

Castelar began rolling cigars at the age of 14, in his native province of Villa Clara, and admits he never though he’d end up making cigars almost the size of football fields. He first made cigar history in 2001 when he rolled a 11.04-meters-long cigar, followed by a 14.86-meter one (2003), then 20.41 meters (2005) and 45.38 meters in 2008. For his next project Jose Castelar Cairo will make a cigar measuring 100 meters, and says that as long as el Cueto is alive, the longest cigar will always be found in Cuba.

Just in case you were wondering what “el Cueto” means, apparently it translates as “someone whose achievements cannot be surpassed”.

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Valle de la Prehistoria – Cuba’s Jurassic Park

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Valle de la Prehistoria, near the city of Santiago de Cuba, is a prehistoric-themed tourist attraction that features life-size models of over 200 dinosaurs and cavemen.

Located inside the Bocanao National park, Valle de la Prehistoria spreads over 11 hectares of land and is as close as it can get to a real-life Jurassic Park. The vast recreational park dedicated to science and palaeontology is split into multiple areas separated by geological epochs, and features lush vegetation, man-made waterfalls and 227 concrete statues representing 59 different species, including dinosaurs, mammoths, felines and early cavemen.

Perhaps the most spectacular statue in the whole Valle de la Prehistoria is the 12-meter-high Cro magnon welcoming tourists at the park entrance, with a giant stone axe in hand and a Flintstones-like sign post that reads “Do not hesitate! Go! Dare to discover the Jurassic Park dreamed by Spielberg himself”. According to people who visited this popular tourist attraction, it is indeed a fun way to travel back in time, and no other facility manages to recreate a prehistoric atmosphere as faithfully.

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