Directed by: Mary Jane Doherty
English and Spanish with English subtitles
The Escuela Nacional Cubana de Ballet (Cuban National Ballet School) is the one of the most famous ballet schools in the world and produces principal dancers for prestigious ballet companies all over the globe. Local director Mary Jane Doherty travels to Cuba to provide us with a glimpse of what life is like for the school’s young dancers, on whose shoulders their entire families’ hopes for financial security often rest.
The film follows three dancers in particular: Gabriella, her class’s top dancer, who hails from one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Havana; Mayara, a rising star whose sudden ascension surprises everyone; and Moisés, a talented but struggling student from one of the city’s poorest areas. Over the course of their three years of high school, the friends contend with painful injuries, sudden falls from grace, and shocking decisions, as they develop their skills. Eventually they begin traveling outside Cuba to perform in international competitions—something they never would have experienced without their dancing careers. As we watch these young lives unfold, we can see how the circumstances of location can affect choices, as well as opportunities.