Pompadour dancers in Guantanamo, Cuba. Slave owners with their slaves fleeing the Haitian Revolution brought French drum dancing (Tumba Francesa) to eastern Cuba. These dancers are part of a group maintaining this tradition, and their efforts have received international recognition. http://www.guantanamocity.org/en/culture/tumba-francesa.html
Eduardo "Pipi" Goulet Lestapier, the famous traditional Changuicero (Changui singer and player). Changui music is a forerunner of modern salsa; it originated in eastern Cuba, but is popular throughout Cuba.
Changui at the Casa del Changui, in Guantanamo, Cuba. The instrument, which is played like a large thumb piano, has various names in Cuba, including "marimbola" and "marimba," but not to be confused with the xylophone-style instrument.
Beginning ballet students at the performing arts school, Cuba. Auditions for regional art schools begin at about the 3rd grade level. These schools provide students with a standard education, specialized arts training in the field they choose, special diets and exercise, and room and board. There is no charge for these schools, and training continues through college level. Dancers can continue on to a dance company or go into teaching.
Cuba has several ballet companies that are top-ranked internationally. The Director explained that part of their success is based on a unique Cuban choreography that takes advantage of their stronger dancers. We visited the campus of the company while they exercised, rehearsed, and prepared materials for performances.
Behind the scenes at the ballet company. The company made their own costumes, slippers, stage props, and sets.
This seamstress explained how they made the costumes, often using ancient Singer sewing machines powered by a bank of belts and pulleys hidden beneath the tables.
With low budgets and shortage of materials, the ballet company found many ingenious solutions for props and costumes, such as this chalice made from plastic drink bottles.
Shoe building and repair at the ballet company.
Like everything else, shoes were improvised at the ballet company. When I wandered into her workshop, the shoe builder showed me how she even makes her own glue and toe stiffener by dissolving scraps of styrofoam into a solvent that smelled like acetone. She showed me how the ballet shoes are endlessly rebuilt . Nothing goes to waste.
Cuban band on a cobblestone street in Trinidad de Cuba.