Cuba’s National Ballet prepares return to stage as lockdown eases

Cuba’s National Ballet prepares return to stage as lockdown eases

HAVANA, Oct. 31st (Stretching her legs in the air, Cuban ballet dancer Daniela Gomez, 25, was prepared for performances as the island continues to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions.Gomez, who resumed rehearsals one week ago, told the Xinhua News Agency she was eager to perform again in front of a live audience and happy to dance with her castmates.

Nineteen months after the pandemic hit the Caribbean nation, Cuba’s National Ballet announced it will return to the stage in early December.

“Over the past months, we have learned many things about ourselves and our professional careers, but nothing will compare with the feeling of being back on stage,” she said during recess.

“Wearing a face mask while dancing is not something I pretty much like, but it is necessary,” she added.

Gomez’s excitement about returning to the stage is shared by the over 60 dancers from the world-class ballet company.

Among them is Fernando Meireles, a 19-year-old dancer from Havana’s 10 de Octubre district.

As he stayed home waiting for cultural venues and theatres to reopen, he either used his kitchen counter as a barre or leapt across his terrace to keep in good shape.

“We have gone through a very difficult time while sheltering at home due to the coronavirus emergency, therefore it is fantastic to be back on track,” he said.

With COVID-19 protocols in place, ballet dancers are provided with disinfectants to keep sanitized and diminish the risk of catching coronavirus.

Maria Elena Llorente, one of the company’s main ballet mistresses, told Xinhua that dancers are training for hours every day to achieve optimum fitness.

“We have gradually started to increase training load for dancers to gain muscle mass,” she said.

Meanwhile, prima ballerina Viengsay Valdes, director-general of Cuba’s National Ballet, said that huge efforts had been made to guarantee that dancers can get back in shape.

“I trust our dancers’ capacity to show their passion for dance and ballet,” she said.

“As a limited number of people will be able to enjoy our shows at theatres due to the COVID-19 guidelines, organizing outdoor performances could be a possibility,” she added.