Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dancers + Casa Cultura, Regla, La Habana, Cuba, Summer of 2013


One among many benefits of a decade on the island is the chance to see from the inside. This year we were so fortunate to have increased the number of ballerinas from three to a dozen. Each of these new dancers was selected based on hours of observation in front of the dance school, watching their interactions with friends and their willingness to lead.

One such student used to dance in the group photographed below and, one day after we collaborated on the beach in a ballet theme, we returned to her home where she displayed these very costumes to me. I was amazed that the family owned them, and asked if she would be willing to be photographed in such a way.

She shrugged her shoulders in the positive and with a smile, and also offered to share her clothes with another dancer. On my very last day, we photographed the two dancers on the beach in these costumes, a fitting end to two months on the island.

The image below is a snapshot from a one and a half hour video of this group. The young dancer's father asked me to come along and bring my camera to a performance. We met at his home and went with her and her mom, only to find out that the sound team failed to show up. All of the children and their parents were there, but left as if accustomed to such shortcomings.

We agreed to meet the following week, and reserved an afternoon in our schedule for them. What was most honorable was their insistence on asking me about my schedule, having just met me. The least we could do was to reserve a spot for them on our last week.

So when we arrived this time the sound person was there, and everyone was so excited. I could never have expected what was about to occur in front of my eyes, for the next hour or so. The crowd was treated to everything from ballet to flamenco, from clowns to religious dance, from Michael Jackson to Yoruba chanting… it was truly a magical afternoon and this is just a snapshot from the event!

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Note: This is a still from the video.