Cubans are magical

Did you know Cubans can fly? I knew about the salsa dancing and the talking fast, but the flying, that surprised me.

Cuba ballet, travel

I didn’t think much of the ballet during my first three decades of life. Didn’t think about it at all, in fact. It was an archetype assigned to a gender not my own, a cliché for generic jewelry boxes and little sisters’ Halloween costumes, nothing of interest to me.


Then I met a real-life ballerina. Instead of mincing around talking like Glinda from the Wizard of Oz, she showed me the practice and persistence required to get the foot to tap at just the right place at just the right time, and somehow a dance that had been prancing, became art.


Cuba ballet, travelSo I walked into Prodanza, one of the schools in Cuba’s world-renowned ballet tradition, with cautious optimism that I might see something cool. That was when the teenagers started flying. The first was a boy built from rebar and hickory, sailing through warm air soaked with sweat and dedication. After he eventually consented to gravity, the other boy followed his flight path, leaving a twin con trail through the room’s stratosphere.


Four girls followed, their legs unhooked like snakes’ jaws, so that their knees tended to float around at ear level. They spun in impossible circles, arched in implausible directions, and their faces reflected a devotion and poise beyond their years.



And it was only warm-ups.