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DIRTY DANCING HAVANA NIGHTS

About The Production
Powered by the percolating rhythms of Afro-Cuban and Latin music, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights creates a new experience around the Dirty Dancing paradigm of first love, dance and self-discovery. Based on the story of co-producer/choreographer JoAnn Jansen, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights sweeps us up in the experience of an American teenager who awakens to another way of life when her family moves from staid St. Louis to Cuba's scintillating capitol. Director Guy Ferland recreates a vanished Havana, a place of heady sensuality and unbridled glamour; where the colors are dazzling, the air is perfumed, and dance and music are everywhere, from sun-baked plazas to opulent casinos. Here, Katey Miller (Romola Garai) falls in love with a country and its culture – and with Javier Suarez (Diego Luna), the handsome young Cuban who introduces her to it all. 

Like the original Dirty Dancing, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights combines romance, dance and personal history. In 1958, JoAnn Jansen was a teenager living in St. Louis, Missouri, when her father, an executive with Reynolds Aluminum, was transferred to Havana. Jansen didn't want to leave her life in St. Louis, but of course had no choice. Her family joined the other American families in residence at Havana's luxurious hotels, where every need was catered to and people socialized at posh country clubs, glittering private parties, and opulent nightclub/casinos. It was a culture shock, to put it mildly. "We were a middle-class family,” Jansen recalls. "Suddenly, we were living in a fancy hotel, with maids and a chauffeur available at all times. We were expected to be part of the high-class North American group, but I fell in love with a Latin boy who introduced me to an amazing country.”

In discovering Cuba, she discovered a culture where dance and music were part of everyday life. Jansen knew dance well; she had studied ballet for years and her parents had been professional ballroom dancers. But the dancing in Cuba – how people moved, the ways bodies touched - was a vastly different entity. Dance also gave ordinary Cubans a rare opportunity to speak their minds, using their bodies. "I had never in my life seen anything that looked remotely like the dancing I saw in Havana,” Jansen remarks. "When people danced, it wasn't connected to sex necessarily; it was about the freedom of your body and what it feels like to express yourself. I discovered that you could move your body any way you want; it's part of your personality and nobody can take that from you. The Cuban people understood that deeply.”

Jansen's experience in Cuba influenced her life in countless respects, including her choice of dance as a career. She was running her own modern dance company in New York when she first met Lawrence Bender, who began his career as a dancer and actor. They became friends and went on to work together after Bender became a producer, collaborating on motion pictures including Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Boaz Yakin's Fresh. Over the years, Bender and Jansen had worked on developing a film version of Jansen's teenage experience. When Bender became involved with the production of a new chapter of Dirty Dancing, the pieces fell into place. "I was talking to JoAnn and Boaz Yakin and we realized JoAnn's story would be great for a Dirty Dancing movie,” remembers Bender. "I'm an ex-dancer, so the idea of doing a dance movie or a musical is really close to my heart. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time.”

With Yakin committed to doing an initial screenplay, in 2001 Bender and Jansen took their idea to Artisan Entertainment and Miramax Films, who had joined forces to produce the new Dirty Dancing. Bender explains that no one saw the new film as supplanting the first film. "I loved Dirty Dancing. There's something really special about it,” he says, noting that upon its release the 1987 film became "a phenomenon. People h

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