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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Cuban style training


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There is a new ballet studio opening up in our area. The website describes it as Cuban training based on Vaganova. I've been able to observe a few classes and it doesn't seem as "slow" as what I think of as Vaganova, but I'm really not super clear on what differentiates the styles/methods.

 

Can someone provide an explanation of what one can expect training wise?

 

I know that there is some type of standard curriculum because I have heard the teacher say that they are replicating the training from Cuba in terms of levels and what is taught in each level. One of the teachers taught at one of the big ballet schools in Cuba, so I know that there are experienced teachers, but I'm curious to know what people here have to say about Cuban methodology and style. I know that there are a lot of Cuban dancers in professional US companies, so that seems like the training must be excellent, but then I was thinking maybe that's because ballet is just taken so much more seriously in Cuban culture than here. So maybe the large percentage of Cuban dancers is due to the other aspects of Cuban training (like residential schools with pre-selected kids only, etc).

 

Any thoughts on what makes Cuban training Cuban?

 

PS. I know I could ask at the school, but firstly I'm a tiny bit embarrassed, and secondly I'd like an impartial opinion.

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No need to feel embarrassed!

 

As with any methodology, the teachers and the schedule are what matters!

 

From what I have gathered about Ballet History, we can trace the origins to the French and Italian courts during the Renaissance. Performances were done for royalty and by royalty, and included social dances of the times combined with poetry, spoken word, music, and art.

 

The first ballet score that has survived from the 1500s is the one created by an Italian ballet master from Catherine De' Medici's court, with the title La Ballet Comique (I do not have that absolutely correct), though Ballet as a codified art form, began in France with the French Ballet Masters Pierre Beauchamp and Raoul Feuillet. They and their pupils and peers traveled Europe bringing ballet to other countries. Weaver to London; Noverre to Germany; Didelot to St. Petersburg; Guillet to Cuba.

 

One of Noverre's students, Dauberval, taught Italian Carlo Blasis who later taught Cecchetti. During this time period natural, softer, easier movement was emphasized in order to bring forth the entire story of the ballet. Mime and acting became increasingly important.

 

Of course, we must mention Petipa, who became the choreographer for the Russian Imperial Ballet!

 

Moving on to Vaganova, we find that she took what could at that time be called the best of everything, and re-codified it for the evolving personalities and times. Updated it, for lack of a better way to describe it!

 

Now we can move on to Cuban Ballet. Fernando Alonso is called the father of Cuban ballet because he also, researched and studied and codified their system of training ballet. While all methods have slightly different positions or poses, and of course, different names for steps, all methods are based upon the original form.

 

Now, let's take 3 children from 2013 who are all similar in terms of their facility for ballet. Train them in the Vaganova method, with excellent teachers and a good rigorous schedule, and 1 or 2 might get a job. Train them in the French method with the same criteria, and 1 or 2 might get a job. Train them in the Cuban method and 1 or 2 might get a job. Provided all the other factors are equal- same schedule, same excellent teachers- the method is not what makes the difference, it's ultimately what the dancer then brings beyond that.

 

Now, I am editing to add- Dancer #1 may have thrived in the Vaganova method because of their personality and how that fit well together. Dancer #2 might have wilted and may have been better suited personality wise to the French system, while dancer #3 really took to the Cuban way. Some part of this has to do with finding a place where you 'fit'.

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I appreciate the info very much. I understand that they are all based in the same positions and all get to the same place in the end (hopefully), but the schools all seem to think that their way is superior to the other methods, so maybe only my child can tell if this would be a good for for her.

 

Are there any characterics that Cuban dancers in the US companies are known for?

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  • 1 month later...

One of the companies in my country has a very strong Cuban influence, often has Cuban guest teachers and has employed numerous Cuban dancers. My understanding is that the Cuban style is largely based on Vaganova (so I would assume also has 8 levels? I may be wrong), with a particular Latin American flair in terms of artistry. What I have witnessed from the Cuban dancers is that they are very strong and have spectacular grand allegro. Wikipedia describes the Cuban ballet school (the academy itself): "Following the classical Soviet system, the National Ballet School turns out 40 professionals a year.[5] One of the most celebrated ballerinas for fifty years, Alicia Alonso has combined a true sense of romanticism with a Latin boldness of feeling, and the suppleness and high extensions of the Russian school with the brilliant footwork of Italy"

 

I would recommend watching some youtube videos of the Cuban National Ballet to get an idea of the style that comes through. You could also look into videos of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami.

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