Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dancer, Portrait by Eldo, Roof of Home, Havana, Cuba, July, 2010

Two years ago her portrait was made in front of the ballet school. In front of perhaps fifty people, students and parents of students, she stood tall and allowed two rolls to be exposed. Her mother gently helped her along through the process, proud to see her child so strong and graceful.

On this day, after much hard work by Eldo in search of her home, she suddenly arrives with a young family member for her portrait. This is a complete shock for me, since we have been trying really hard to find her. Eldo it seems wanted this to be a surprise.

She comes dressed for her performance. The temperature is by now above any comfort zone, and the color of her fabric absorbs even more so the sun, high in the sky by now. Nonetheless she closes her eyes and stretches her hands out, holding her poses for minutes at a time. She never once complains and is kind enough to allow my instructions in a limited Spanish.

For over an hour and during one of the hottest, most humid days, she performs for us. The young man also grants us his patience and kindness, helps her along and explains what is difficult for me to communicate. The respect she shows me will always be remembered. Here is a girl that has come from a home far away, dressed in her uniform while other children are playing in the streets of her neighborhood. She has a discipline that most lack, a love that few have ever seen.

Just today I received an email from Eldo. As I was scanning her negatives in preparation for my visit this July, he was visiting her family on my behalf. The news of my visit was shared with them and their response was like her response one year ago, one represented in her portrait above.

People often ask me: why do you visit these people? Do you fail to realize the importance of your family here?

I can only point them in the direction of the young girl above and hope that they understand.
Halim Ina Photography

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