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American Ballet Theater hopes to unite countries with Cuba performance

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
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American ballet company heads to Cuba
  • ABT will perform this fall in Havana for first time in half a century
  • ABT's executive director: "We are artists, not politicians"

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- The executive director of American Ballet Theatre said Tuesday she hopes to help bridge the divide between Cuba and the United States when the company performs in Havana this fall for the first time in 50 years.

"We believe in the power of the arts to connect people and transform lives," Rachel Moore told reporters here.

The American Ballet Theatre's repertory performances in Havanašs International Ballet Festival on November 3 and 4 will mark the New York-based company's first visit to the island since 1960.

ABT principal dancers and soloists will be featured in two additional performances, November 5 and 6.

Asked about reports that U.S. President Barack Obamašs administration could ease travel restrictions to Cuba for cultural and academic groups, Moore said: "We are artists, not politicians."

She added: "We really do believe this trip in November will be a bridge between two artistic communities."

The festival will honor Cuban prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, who danced with the American Ballet Theater in the 1940s. She visited the company earlier this year for her 90th birthday.