PEDRO RUIZ: COMING HOME Airs On Thirteen Tonight
Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home, an hour-long documentary and performance film, telling the story of Pedro's return to Cuba and featuring innovative, breathtaking modern dance sequences, airs Thursday, September 29 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN. The program is part of Cantos Latinos, THIRTEEN's special Hispanic Heritage Month programming block dedicated to the contributions and unique stories of Latinos.
Before his trip, Ruiz had already achieved more than he could possibly have dreamed when his family arrived in the U.S. in 1984. For 20 years, Ruiz was the principal dancer of the Latino dance troupe Ballet Hispanico. His choreography brought even more renown, winning rave reviews from such publications as the New York Times, which called his work "a silky, sexy joy."
But for all his success, Pedro considers this year's trip the most important project of his career, providing him the opportunity to show his work in the homeland he still misses desperately, and to share his love of dance with the current generation of Cuban dance stars.
A WNET crew traveled with Ruiz to Havana (also with the permission of both the U.S. and Cuban governments) to document this cultural exchange. Over the course of a month, he experiences a profound artistic and human journey. The cameras follow Pedro, his assistant choreographers, Eric Rivera and Angelica Burgos, and the dancers though the process of creating an exquisite, innovative and deeply personal modern dance.
The film also intimately showcases some of Cuba's best young dancers both as artists and as human beings. Ruiz visits his hometown, Santa Clara, his first visit there since his family left Cuba 30 years ago, and he experiences exuberant reunions with his godfather, who still lives in the house where Pedro was born, and his childhood best friend.
When the dancers come to New York City for their first-ever trip to the United States, they express their feelings about a country most thought they would never have the chance to see.
Along with in-depth interviews with Pedro and seven of the dancers, behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, and performance footage shot from six different angles, the film includes extensive sequences of the dancers and Pedro himself performing his choreography in locations throughout Havana.
Ruiz discusses his decision to be open about his sexuality, and his 12-year relationship with his partner Andy Achsen. "The more that you know who you are, you have that security. You have that power. You can express yourself without trying to cover something that people may discover, something about me that is who I am. And this is it."
The film combines dance, soul, a dash of politics and even a little romance. But ultimately, it's a film about the power of art to transform lives and cross divides.
Pedro Ruiz: Coming Home is a Creative News Group production in association with THIRTEEN for WNET, one of America's most prolific and respected public media providers. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local arts programming to the New York community.
For WNET, Executive in charge: Neal Shapiro. Executive Producer: Mary Lockhart, general manager of CNG. Director & Producer: Julie Cohen. Editor & Field Producer: Alex Lowther. Director of Photography: Rich White.
About WNET New York Public Media
WNET is America's flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces such acclaimed PBS series as Great Performances, American Masters, Nature, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through SundayArts, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
Further information and special preview footage for Pedro Ruiz: Come Home can be found at www.thirteen.org/pedro-ruiz beginning 9/12.