I first arrived in Cuba exactly 40 years ago when I came as a dancer to participate in Laura Alonso’s first Cuballet course. I fell in love with the island, its people and Cuban ballet and brought my own company dancers to learn about the Cuban technique.
Ever since, my admiration for Laura Alonso has prompted me to encourage my own students to visit Cuba. Friendships have endured and each visit has brought new ones.
Our Vyne team of Angie, Sophie and Amelie have also embraced the culture and the people of Cuba and now have new friends for life. Numbers have been swapped, presents have been given and promises have been made that more visits will follow. Sophie gives her brand new pointe shoes to a beautiful young dancer called Elena.
Happy and thankful dancers proudly wear their ‘new’ dancewear, some even caught on camera already clad in their unitards as they make their way to Prodanza aong Havana’s dusty streets.
Whilst the costume department is in need of organisation and support with basic essentials, the staff face the daunting task of kitting out the entire company for multiple ballets each year.
Once they heard of Angie’s talents, Angie was asked to stay and teach others to make tutus, and even to design a costume for an international competition with only 30 mins. Her request for pins was received with an apology…we don’t have any…! Dear Angie managed to use Sophie’s 2 safety pins to prepare something for them to work on.
After a week of extreme contrasts with exquisite ballet and blatent poverty, we leave for our oasis – now feeling subdued and pensive about how we can really help this gracious and rightfully proud company of dancers.
To finish of the blog, here are some fun photos of Cuba, the beach and our time together.
Two of the youngest dancers, on their way to class, who were enthralled to meet Amelie and Sophie from England and wanted to have a photo taken.
A walk with Chino during a lunchbreak
Griselle, is a very close Cuban friend I have known for many years, we were invited to her house to have a meal and shower and get changed ready to go to the theatre to watch Cuban Ballet perform Carmen.
In the foyer of Teatro Nacional de Cuba with one of the Prodansa Soloists, Chino, who also came to watch the show. Prodansa were also performing Carmen the next weekend on the same stage.
A much appreciated gift from Sophie at the end of an incredibly hot week, this was a lifesaver for the girls and now Laura can have the pleasure of her hand held fan and Angie’s neck fan!
Saying goodbye is hard when you have enjoyed yourself so much and learnt lessons that will remain with the girls for a lifetime.
The two week we spent in Cuba were amazing, hard work for all involved but incredible lessons learnt and looking forward to future Vyne Abroad trips to this wonderful country.