It has been one of those years in which, if I didn't have any photographs,…
Perhaps the highlight of the first Havana Imagined photography tour I lead for Espiritu Travel was our afternoon at capturing images of Cuban ballet dancers at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Over the next two months I’ll post up collections of captures from our time in Havana. I’ll try to do one a week. Over the course of the 8-day tour we visited the national ballet, art workshops, a famous boxing gym and numerous locations around Cuba’s intense capital city. Sign up for email notifications at the bottom of this page if you’d like to know each time I publish a new collection of images.
The world-renown Ballet Nacional de Cuba is located in the recently renovated Alicia Alonso Great Theatre of Havana. While a bright and ornate standout situated right in the center of Havana, the inside of the school rather stark and bare, guarded by a smiling and chatty 70-something year old security man who watched the street from the shade of the doorway.
The school was founded in 1948 by the country’s prima ballerina assoluta, Alicia Alonso and her husband Fernando after returning from years in the United States. After the revolution the school for Cuban ballet dancers fell under control of the state and became a source of national pride. The Alonsos had supported the revolution and with Castro committed to make the arts, sports and healthcare available to the whole Cuban population the school took on a special place in Cuban society. It maintains that position and with big but slow changes underway in Cuba the school is looking to the future.
Indeed, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba is one of the pre-eminent ballet schools in the world and supplies dancers to companies from the US to Europe to Asia. Many of these dancers of have won awards and distinctions in contests around the world. But it doesn’t sound like it is an easy place to be. In fact, it has been described as “hell” by some students. The school follows the Soviet classical system and only graduates about 40 dancers a year.
I had two cameras going while at the ballet. I wanted to capture both clear portraits of the Cuban ballet dancers as well as their movements. For these dreamy movement shots, I slowed my shutter speed to ¼ second and set my aperture between 14 and 20. ISO 200.
We will be heading back to Havana in April 2018 for the next Havana Imagined Photography Tour …. and believe me that photographing Cuban ballet dancers will be top of the list!
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