Kicking Up Our Heels in Cuba

Cubans love to dance – in the streets, in the squares, and in performance halls.

They literally grow up dancing, as evidenced by the ballet students practicing along the Malacón at midnight, a gaggle of teenagers entertaining the crowds in Old Havana, and a community hall filled with children cutting the rug.

In fact, Cubans tapped their African roots to invent some of Latin America’s most infectious dances, like the Cha-Cha, the Rumba, and the Mambo. All kinds of fancy footwork and rhythmic hip swaying.

ProDanza Perfection

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother, more formal, type of dance in which Cubans excel is ballet. As part of our artists’ tour, we visited one of the country’s premier dance schools: ProDanza.

ProDanza was established as a dance academy about 20 years ago, training students in ballet and promoting artistic development to more than 450 students. The pupils are aged 8-20 years, hail from across the country, and have one shared goal – to enter the world of the professional dancer.

And the academy has been quite successful, with principal dancers and prima ballerinas joining international companies such as the American Ballet Theater, Ballet of Canada, and the British National Ballet.

As part of their professional training, ProDanza’s students tour across the globe, spreading the beauty of the country’s “Cuban school of ballet.” Recent tours have taken them to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, China and the U.S.

ProDanza Practice Session

One of my fondest memories of my time in Cuba was the morning we spent attending a ProDanza practice session. The elegance and energy of the students was palatable as we all sat transfixed, watching the students practice their solos and duets on the outdoor stage.

Hopefully some of the photos below will provide a glimpse into the beauty that the dancers conveyed through their movement and expressions.









Donating to ProDanza

Knowing that the ballet school was on our itinerary, a few of us brought items to donate to the students. I brought with me 6 pairs of men’s tights that I had ordered online ahead of time. Others of us gave cash on the spot.

Want to help the students too? Below is a wish list of desired items. Please contact me if you’d like help coordinating your donation.

  • Ballet Shoes for Men (half toe or soft shoes): Sizes 4 to 14
  • Point Shoes for Men: Sizes 5 to 9
  • Ballet Shoes for Women: Sizes 6 to 9
  • Men’s Ballet Tights: Sizes S, M, L

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 21st, 2015 and is filed under North America.

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