We had a chance to visit the Centro de Promoción del la Danza in Havana. The school was started back in 1931 by Alicia Alonso and continues to this day under the direction of Laura Alonso, Alicia’s daughter. I was eager to visit the school partially because of Alicia Alonso’s history of vision problems, specifically a detached retina. It is because of my study of vision that photography has become so important to me, so people’s stories as they’ve overcome visual deficits inspire me.
Alecia formed the company in Havana that would eventually become the Escuela Nacional Cubana de Ballet in 1948 and then going on to dance in Moscow and Paris. After the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro’s claim to power, Alecia returned to Havana to to create the ballet school and to this day, in her 90’s and partially blind, continues to work with the Centro de Promoción del la Danza in Havana.
The introductory image of a ballerina in training at the top was made while she watched others rehearse for a performance. I loved the intimacy of the image as the ballerina stretched and watched the other dancers perform and rehearse.
To get these shots, I was shooting through an open window at a mirrored wall with a 70-300 zoom lens so that I was looking at reflections in a rehearsal mirror (see the outtakes below). Dave Kile got some similar images shooting from inside the room as shown in the outtakes at the bottom of this entry and here.
This shot was a bit of a pirate shot, capitalizing on a couple of other photographers posing of one of the ballerinas. I was quite a bit behind Matteo and Mark Heaps and poached this shot.
Walking around the school, I came across this dancer stretching. I am thinking that this could be considered a stress position in “enhanced interrogation” if anyone other than a dancer were to experience this. I loved the pose as a rather matter of fact, every day kind of thing even though this position would have snapped every tendon in my body.
The performances and rehearsals that we got to see were amazing. These feet belong to a husband and wife team who were on stage when we showed up. They were amazing and this was the best I came up with from their performance. Duncan managed a proper portrait of them in his post, Bridging The Gap.
Many thanks to Jorge Victor Gavilondo Cowley on some of the finer points of the history of Prodanza.