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BOOK REVIEW

DANCING WITH CUBA : A MEMOIR OF THE REVOLUTION
By Alma Guillermoprieto
Vintage

 

By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 4 DECEMBER 2005—This interesting, well-written book begins with Guillermoprieto's recollections of her life as a dancer in New York in the 1960's. While many of us share memories of standing in line, or, as was the case in London, sleeping overnight on the ground for fistfuls of seats for Fonteyn and Nureyev, few have her unique, first- hand knowledge of either Martha Graham or Merce Cunningham in those eventful years. It was intriguing to read of Twyla Tharp's beginnings, and stories of her early-morning rehearsals are particularly evocative.

However, dancing isn't really at the heart of her book. What the nine chapters do in fact, is give an original and refreshing look at everyday life in Havana in the early days of the Cuban revolution seen through the eyes of a twenty year old girl from New York. Alma Guillermoprieto, who spent six months teaching at Cuba's National School of Dance in 1970, has reconstructed the time she spent there, and the result is this bittersweet recollection of revolutionary Cuba and of Fidel Castro himself, a "lucid, heroic man" whom she likens to a Caribbean god.

She took it for granted that the Revolution was on the side of good, and her book is less a record of the political events at the time as a outpouring of personal memories, of the people she knew, places she went, and the Toblerone she ate, "to become civilised once more". Her book makes fascinating reading.

Dancing with Cuba : A Memoir of the Revolution
By Alma Guillermoprieto
Paperback: 304 pages
Vintage (8 February 2005)
ISBN: 0375725814
$13.00

Related Feature: National Ballet of Cuba  

Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor of Culturekiosque.com



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