Cuban dancers through the eyes of a Russian artist


[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] In “Las bailarinas cubanas a través de los ojos de una artista rusa,Sputnik Mundo posted a fabulous photo gallery by Russian ballet photographer Darian Vólkova. She recorded the day-to-day beauty of the students of the National Ballet School of Cuba during a recent visit to the Caribbean country. The renowned artist was in Havana in mid-November as part of a delegation of various ballet stars from St. Petersburg, who arrived in Havana as part of the 500-year celebrations of the founding of the Cuban capital. Here is more about Darian Vólkova from a previous article and interview in Sputnik Mundo news (November 29, 2019):

For almost a decade, Darian Volkova has been capturing the beautiful world of ballet with her camera. In mid-November, the former dancer arrived in Havana for an exhibition of her work. She took this opportunity to record the day-to-day life of the students of the National Ballet School of Cuba.

Various stars of the St. Petersburg ballet arrived in Havana on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Cuban capital, celebrated on November 16. During the cultural day, a master class was held, a gala was held at the National Theater, and the photographic exhibition entitled “The Petrified Music of St. Petersburg” was exhibited, with works by Volkova.

After returning to Russia, this dancer, who swapped her shoes for cameras, spoke with Sputnik and told us more about her story, the delicate art of photographing ballet, and how it has been to visit Cuba and photograph her dancers and dancers.

You visited Cuba recently. What impressed you the most?

DV: It is difficult to answer definitively. Cuba is colors and contrasts. Over four days, it is impossible to properly assess the entire country, to understand it, to feel it. But if we talk about the strongest impression, for me, it was the ballet school where the events took place. I have never seen such a place. It is probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. [. . .]

You visited the National Ballet School of Cuba. What are your impressions of Cuban ballet in general? And of this particular school?

DV: I repeat: the ballet school in Havana is an incredible place.

Little dancers walk the halls with scarves around their neck. In the classrooms and hallways, on the walls and ceilings, there are works of art in the form of plaster decorations and paintings.

The photographs do not transmit the energy inside the school. You definitely have to shoot a movie there. The atmosphere, the color, the stories … all this literally left me speechless. The first day I did not dare to take photos there, because I did not understand how to convey everything in a single photo or even in a series.

The students and their technique impressed me. I attended the master class that Denís Matvienko gave to the students of the school. I have some photos of the report, but, I say it again, the photos do not convey even half of what I felt inside the school. The school walls are history, and the students and teachers are the people who created and continue to create this history.

While I was in Havana, I shared [on the networks] some photos of the school and I wrote a lot of ballet people who had studied there, who missed it, saying that my photos made them remember the school. Currently, these artists work in the largest theaters and companies in the world. So my answer to the question about what I think of the technique of Cuban dancers: it’s amazing! [. . .]

For full interview, see

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