In 1970 a young dancer named Alma Guillermoprieto left New York to take a job teaching at Cuba’s National School of Dance. For six months, she worked in mirrorless studios (it was considered more revolutionary); her poorly trained but ardent students worked without them but dreamt of greatness. Yet in the midst of chronic shortages and revolutionary upheaval, Guillermoprieto found in Cuba a people whose sense of purpose touched her forever.
In this electrifying memoir, Guillermoprieto–now an award-winning journalist and arguably one of our finest writers on Latin America– resurrects a time when dancers and revolutionaries seemed to occupy the same historical stage and even a floor exercise could be a profoundly political act. Exuberant and elegiac, tender and unsparing, Dancing with Cuba is a triumph of memory and feeling.
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|Title of History eBook: Dancing with Cuba|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Dancing with Cuba
One autumn day in 1969, before the start of the advanced class at the Merce Cunningham dance studio, Merce came over to me and said that there were two opportunities for teaching modern dance that he thought might interest me. One was in Caracas, with a group of dancers who were only just forming their own company, and the other was in Havana, where there was a government-funded school dedicated to modern dance.
My life in dance had been routine and predictable until then, if not exactly normal. In Mexico, my native country, I joined a modern dance company at the age of twelve. At sixteen I left my father's home and traveled to New York to live with my mother, who had moved here following her separation from my father. I kept on dancing. At first I took classes at the Martha Graham studio. In the world of modern dance the brilliant, temperamental Martha was the most revered choreographer. Starting in the 1930s, she had revolutionized not only dance but theater as well; her use of sets and costumes turned on its head every standard notion of what can be done and communicated on a stage. Her quest for a body language that reflected the deepest inner conflicts, and the way she used gestures and movements to stage great myths, centering them on the internal universe of a single woman-Medea, Joan of Arc, Eve, all of them ultimately Martha herself in any case-brought her admirers and disciples from all the arts. She was, moreover, the first creator of modern dance to devise a truly universal dance technique out of the movements she developed in her choreography. I had studied Graham technique in Mexico, and one of my reasons