Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aspiring Dancer + Beach, Santa Maria del Mar, Cuba, Summer of 2014


While walking on my own the day before I met a young vendor selling vegetables and fruits out of her apartment. First I asked to photograph the products, then I asked to photograph her next to them. As we talked a neighbor joined us and asked about my work. I showed an album to them and she was fascinated by the images of ballerinas, telling me that two of the vendor's children were dancers… producing a look of comic displeasure on the vendor's face.
Nevertheless the children were called for along with one of the neighbors as well. They were shocked to see a tourist in their home, yet at a moment's notice performed a dance routine right in front of my eyes, all to music selected by their mother. It was so spontaneous that I barely had a chance to record the dancing on my small phone!
They were fabulous, just incredible! We talked right there and then about a session, and all agreed on the very next morning. I warned them that we'd be in front of their apartment by 6:20 in the morning, yet they were all in with smiles. When we arrived the very next day early at 6:00, they were already standing in the street waiting for us. It was a sign of great things to come!
While her older sister and neighbor were photographed in their ballet outfits, the youngest of the bunch put on a ballet outfit and did her best to fit in. We dedicated perhaps one or two rolls of film to her, and I only hope that the film images are half as beautiful as the digital ones.
An hour after this portrait was made, we enjoyed two hours of play in the water behind her. This happened to be her first time in the ocean, and her mother sat and watched with a smile as the tourist took her by the hand and gave her the first lessons in the water. She went from a girl barely able to walk toward the waves to one jumping in without having to hold my hand. At first she had a hard time with the water, then she dipped her hair fully in the waves, laughing the entire time.
This is the magic of photography, and what it can help accomplish in less than 24 hours.