Camaguey Cuba Ballet

The most exciting photographic opportunity I had in Cuba was at a rehearsal for the Camagüey Ballet.

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The most exciting photographic opportunity I had in Cuba was at a rehearsal for the Camagüey Ballet. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to capture dance, which like music, is a linear art form. Unlike musical performances, dancers provide numerous moments for powerful still images. Considering it was my first attempt I did OK. My instincts of where to be & when to snap were solid. The challenges of background & lighting were a distraction. A photo my daughter took inspired this shot.
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As I have mentioned before, odd numbers for me are more visually interesting. I find that 3 or 5 primary subjects can create unbalanced symmetry I find intriguing. Maybe it has something to do with the rules of thirds. I found this tighter shot, which cropped the full form of the dancers, engaged my eye more with the individuals. I enjoy the personal outfits of rehearsal instead of more formal costumes during performance.
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As I was transitioning from the horizontal of video into stills I discussed the challenges I had with vertical framing. A single ballerina in a spinning pointe erased whatever traces I  have of reluctance to turn the camera 90 degrees. I also explored personal post-production boundaries on this image. I justify the enhancement with the fact that the subject is “art”.
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A square cropping also pushes my comfort zone. Shortly after I started working on this image in PS I was drawn to this perspective. In some respects, because it lacks the entire pose of the dancer, this shot is a failure. However the expression on her face justifies to me showing only 3 of her 4 appendages. This led me to explore square cropping with other images.
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When photographing in a room with mirrors it can be either a nightmare or an entry to another dimension. Fortunately the mirror was on the south side of the room where I kept my back most of the time. I would however like to explore coordinating the perspective of this shot. Standing there trying to make something out of this angle I remembered a workshop where I learned where you stand with a camera is a lot like shooting pool. A few degrees difference can make a big change.

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Although shot has an even number of subjects I like this image a lot. The missing form of the ballerina in the foreground is partially revealed in the background dancer. This combines the power of a close-up with a hint of the pose. I also like the green leaf earrings, which are a personal touch you could easily miss in a wider shot. along with the informal wisp of her hair. If only the bar in the background had not been there. I was thrilled & thankful to be a guest at this rehearsal. However, the photographer in me wanted control.

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OK, I’m back to odd numbers. In an effort to eliminate the bar that encircled the room I tried getting a lower angle. However my old knees had an opinion as to how much I should do this. Again, I justify the failure of not having the complete form with the more dramatic facial features. The receding focus & the position of the dancers arms in conjunction with the direction of the their gaze create both tension & harmony.

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This shot demonstrates all of the visual distractions I was trying to overcome. If I had to choose only one distraction I could eliminate I would have the bar removed. In my minds eye the strong horizontal lines is a visual speed bump. Ignoring the distractions and the noise from a high ISO I love the form captured in this moment as well as the dancers concentration. In hindsight, I could have lowered the shutter to 350 speed & reduced the ISO.

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As somewhat of a bookend to the beginning image of feet in the 3rd position I choose this CU of pointe to end my images from the rehearsal studio. A ballerina in pointe is an iconic image of the art. In my minds eye the subtle strength & precise form of the dancer are captured in this detail.

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I must thank Esmeralda Pimental Rodriguez a representative for Paridiso Tourismo Cultural for the connection and insight into Cuban Art. She helped coordinate my trip to the ballet rehearsal at Casa Quinta. If I ever return to Cuba I will look for her assistance in coordinating  my visit around a performance of the Camaguey Ballet.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.

Artists of Cuba & their ART Part 2

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Sorting my images I recognized shots of artwork connected to some of my strongest memories of my trip To Cuba, Even if these photographs are what I consider substandard, especially compared to various people shots, I wanted to do another posting of Cuban art to give some insight into the character of the artists & culture.

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The pallet of colors Cuban artists use is weighted in the tropics. The subjects in much of their work is diverse interpretations of life on the island. In many variations, art is a voice that speaks to the emotion of people, places & times.

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I don’t know if the faces are specific individuals or if they are symbolic representations. When I think of Dark Imagery it usually lacks detail. In this work the detail is intricate to whatever the artist was trying to say.

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I’ve thought tile/mosaic work is between flat art & sculpture. I might even call it 2.5D. In public & privates spaces I found custom works enhancing the environment.

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In Cuban Art Part 1 I showed you Abel Garcia Leon in the business side of his home. With his dog keeping him company he is working on a fresh canvas in his studio beside his barbershop. The kitchen, bedroom & toilet are in the back.

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The work of his I saw hanging in his barbershop/studio was an interesting approach to pointillism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Seurat

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The Garden of Eden symbolism would be an interesting discussion I would love to have with the artist that created this painting. Symbolic biblical representation like this in a Communist country is an example of how art can transcend oppression.

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An artist in the tropics made me feel the cold winds of the sea with color & brush strokes. That is an example of how art can have an impact on senses beyond your eyes.

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The umbrella topic of this blog is motivation. The inspiration & evolution of the artist that made this piece would be a very interesting discussion.

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I believe it is very challenging to “fill the frame” in any visual medium. The easel is the perfect method to display this work. A frame would destroy the boundaries.

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Often as I wander thru galleries, shops & museums, I felt an overwhelming diversity of styles. The montage/collage displays demonstrated a co-op of the talent on the island as the images fought for my attention.

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As a photograph this is a complete failure with the exception of the subject. The trilogy of the work with the background drew me to try & capture something that I just couldn’t get. However, the diversity of the theme of vases really caught my eye.

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Most of the Casa Particulares I stayed in had artwork that complemented the homes. This outdoor courtyard in Camaguey had an elaborate wall mural made with 8X8 tiles fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. The organic accents & the decorative ironwork were integrated in an interesting layout.

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I end this blog with another mediocre photograph. I did not take the time to wait for better human interaction with public art. I was on my way to Ballet Rehearsal which is the next posting in a few weeks.

The content of these postings are based upon my observations, conversations with my guide, interviews with people interpreted by my guide & interactions I had with people I met. Any mistakes are entirely mine with no intention to mislead.