BALLET NACIONAL DE CUBA
In 1998 I went to Cuba to photograph Cuban art and culture for a Danish magazine. I was fascinated by the ability of the Cuban people, despite struggling with relative poverty, the effects of the embargo and the political system,to express themselves through music, painting, photography, writing and dance with great curiosity, willpower, energy and creativity.
I was only briefly introduced to Cuban ballet -- but it made a lasting impression on me. I had difficulty grasping the link between the spontaneous and improvised way of life, which has become a necessity in order to survive in Cuba, with classical ballet, which is controlled and choreographed down to every last detail. But perhaps, in the midst of all the chaos, Cubans long for a sense of stability, and ballet provides one of those fixtures in life.
The Cuban ballet was founded in 1948 by a woman named Alicia Alonso. Although 90 years old today, she continues to serve as head of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. In that role she has been an inspiration to several generations of Cuban dancers -- and her distinctive style has influenced international classical ballet as well. Several of her former students are now dancers at American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Washington Ballet, and The Royal Ballet in London. Although Alicia Alonso is now nearly blind, she continues to head the national ballet and direct shows there.
I have now been two times in Cuba to photograph the ballet.
I still need to clarify and understand fully the mechanisms that make the ballet one of the world's best.
There is still much fundraising to be done and when it is in place, I take off to Havana