Today is the start of three days of workshops, parties and one Latin dance spectacular when the melody of Spanish guitar and the beat of African drums celebrates Cuban culture in the city.

Cuban dancers from Australia and New Zealand are in town to teach, dance and share their culture at the Aotearoa Cuban Festival and members of the public are welcome to take part in the variety of events.

"Cuban music and dance is a lifestyle. We sing and dance when we are happy and when we are sad," said festival artistic director Greydis Montero Liranza.

"First thing in the morning, before we put on the coffee, we put on the music, then you have your coffee and it gets you into the rhythm of the day."


Montero Liranza is originally from Havana, and has been living in Rotorua since 2002. She is an award winning dancer and choreographer, who has travelled the world showcasing the rhythms of Cuba and the Caribbean.

She said Kiwis often discovered joy and a more positive outlook when they were introduced to her culture's music and dance.

"The first thing they learn is that it's not as hard as they think. People discover a lot of joy and happiness when they dance. Sometimes life can be a struggle, but they feel uplifted after classes. They leave with a big smile - it is a beautiful way to embrace life.

"It is also very social. It is a very healthy way to meet new people," she said.

One special event of the festival is the Cuban and Latin Dance Showcase at the Energy Events Centre tomorrow night. The best professional Cuban dancers from Australasia are performing, as well as Kiwi Latin dancers of all ages.

"It is going to be amazing. The beauty of it is getting to know and understand another culture. You don't want to miss out. It is going to be like a Cuban carnival.

"The festival is the perfect opportunity for the community to enjoy, understand and see what we do in life. Dancing is very therapeutic and once you introduce it into your daily life, it is fantastic."

What: Aotearoa Cuban Festival Showcase
When: Saturday
Where: Rotorua Energy Events Centre