Dégagé: Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Dégagé, from French, means “disengage”. It is a typical ballet movement that is taught from the first classes of the discipline. In dégagé the dancer's feet moves away from the support leg, her center of balance. This project translates through photographs the development behind the performances of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba while they were away from home, outside their center.
The photographs have as stage the Tívoli theatre, in Barcelona, while they were on tour in Spain in summer 2019. During this time, they were developing the Swan Lake and Cinderella shows. In this documentary I focus on human development that precedes acting, on the work that makes it real.
The company has a routine of a lot of work and effort. There is intense activity every day, from classes, rehearsals, dressing tests, many conversations, lots of practice, etc. The artists and dancers focus their entire lives on this environment and it is this dedication that makes everything go flawless.
From a photographic point of view, the backstage has its complications: dark and narrow environments, lots of movement, intense activity with everyone very concerned with their work. But this makes this whole construction even more beautiful, more real. As a photographer and passionate about ballet, I am clear that only my gaze is there. I am just an observer who shapes the reality of the moment, without any intervention, since even this behind the scenes moment is in itself a spectacle.
Photographing people during their processes is quite common in the world of photography, such as Annie Leibovitz's photographs on the backstage of the world of music in the 70s, W. Eugene Smith with the Jazz Loft Project in the early 60s, and many others. By photographing these processes and documenting the artists in their dynamics, the atmosphere of their music is exposed. In this way, the photographs complement their art and do not attempt to reproduce or replace it.
My attempt is to share my view of the backstage environment of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, of this work behind the art they do. About all this life that precedes the show and which is also ballet, but that does not usually come to the surface.
The Ballet Nacional de Cuba is one of the great exponents of the dance world, internationally recognized as one of the best ballets in the world. Founded in 1948 under the name of Alicia Alonso, one of the most iconic figures in world ballet. The Ballet Nacional de Cuba has an importance that transcends the world of dance, traversing and influencing political moments that helped define the course of our history.
I feel privileged to be able to translate the construction of this magnificent work with my photography, to be present while something so special takes shape.