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Dancing With Cuba

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  182 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In 1970 a young dancer named Alma Guillermoprieto left New York to take a job teaching at Cuba’s National School of Dance. For six months, she worked in mirrorless studios (it was considered more revolutionary); her poorly trained but ardent students worked without them but dreamt of greatness. Yet in the midst of chronic shortages and revolutionary upheaval, Guillermoprie ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published February 8th 2004)
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I really enjoyed this book. It was given to my sister by her friend in Oakland. I've never read Alma Guillermoprieto before, but apparently she's the Latin American correspondent for the New Yorker, a publication I wish I had the $ to subscribe to (even more so now that all their fiction and poetry is subscription-only). A lot of this book hit close to home for me. I loved Alma's younger-self narrator: her constant self-critcism, her dislike of her ignorance about politics and Latin American aff ...more
Diane C.
You will learn quite a bit about Cuba's history (Bautista and Castro years) from the personal perspective of a very young dancer who, in 1970, moves from NYC to Cuba to teach her craft to young students.

It's another book that could have been better edited, it seemed to run on at some points. However, I really enjoyed the you-are-there view of a country not even 10 years away from its revolution. Her perspective is pretty measured, showing the good and bad things about Castro's Cuba. At the time
I loved the writing style of the author, captivated by her story. She parses the history of Cuba and the revolution in appropriate places to bolster the narrative. Exquisite story.

More than 3 decades ago, I spent 6 months teaching modern dance in Cuba.
vuelve (come back)

Martha Graham - brilliant, temperamental, most revered choreographer
Her quest for a body language that reflected the deepest inner conflicts and the way she used gesture and movements to stage great myths, centering them on the in
sara fasy
Aug 18, 2009 sara fasy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dance politics theme
After reading her work for years in the New Yorker, and hearing her lecture "How to Be a Mexican" at the New York Public Library, I was interested to read this book about 1970 Cuba. Author teaches modern dance for six months in the state-run school- a woeful experience full of sharp details of the physical poverty in Cuba and the earnest doomed spirit of the modern dance experiment there. AG moves from the dance background of late 60s study in New York with Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham, so ...more
I just finished reading this book after nearly devouring it when I started it. This book is not only for dancers, although lovers of dance and the avant-garde movement of the 60's will love it as well. I found this book to be a unique perspective on the Cuban revolution. Her artful writing on tales of her time in Cuba, working for a tyranical school director and two lovers in other countries all contribute to the color of the story. If you don't know anything about the Cuban revolution, this sto ...more
I visited Cuba in February of this year, and this is one of the books I read on my return. It is essential reading. Alma G presents all the contradictions and craziness of Cuba but does it with intelligence and sympathy, and does not cast blame. She is a brilliant writer, Mexican by birth, and she wrote this book in Spanish in 2000, translated beautifully into English by Esther Allena. Alma is a MacArthur Genius award recipient. She did not have to write this book in Spanish, but by doing so, we ...more
This brilliant memoir starts out in New York, where the author is studying at the Cunningham school and dancing in some of Twyla Tharp's early, experimental, place-based work, and her descriptions of the New York dance world are fantastic. She then moves to Cuba to teach at the new modern dance school there, and becomes interested in politics for the first time. A fascinating story of the development of a political conscience, and an intriguing portrait of a society many of us know little about.
Anna Cordova
Fascinating look at Cuba in the time of Castro. Learned a lot!
It took me a little while to get into Dancing With Cuba , but it was well worth the wait. Alma Guillermoprieto has a singularly warm writing style, and the snapshot of life in Cuba at the start of the Communist revolution becomes more and more fascinating the more you read. Plus, I can't resist a well-written dance book, even if most of the book is not about dance!
I really liked this book when it was published, and I've grown to like it more and more over time.

I had the privilege of seeing one of the NYPL - Performing Arts Library's programs on dance nearly once a week one semester when I was in library school, and the day Ms. Guillermoprieto read from and spoke about this book was one of the best.
Interestingly more "wordy" than I expected it to be considering the title...much more a personal acct of a dancers perspective of the revolution than about dance or dancing in Cuba in anyway.

I enjoyed the first 75% (where I'm at now)...but am quite possibly still expecting something I'm not gonna get...worth the read though!
Sep 08, 2007 Claire rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: rod
I just finished this book. It was a wonderful memoir of dancein NYC in the 60s including Martha Grahm, Tyla Tharpe, Merce Cunningham. The author took a job teaching dance in Cuba in the late 60s and describes life there vividly. She goes on a bunch of tangents about history and politics but it's all pretty interesting.
Rick Edwards
Alma Guillermoprieto gives us an intriguing memoir of a year teaching modern dance in the Cuban national school of dance in the early years of the Revolution. Her critical observations are offered from a posture of appreciation for the human undertaking of social revolution.
Since I enjoy dance and learning about Cuba, this was a good book for me. It got a little heavy on the political and social aspects and less focused on dance as the book progressed, so I felt like I was wading through it at times instead of purely enjoying it.
I was underwhelmed, possibly because I already knew much of the Cuban history that Guillermoprieto recounts here. I wanted more of her story, especially about her depression which comes to light a bit too suddenly.
A thought provoking tale of an artists learned appreciation and interest in politics; expressing her take without pointing fingers, cause or blame towards any of the involved parties.

Wonderfully written.
Ellison Kuhne Andert
Revolution, blah, blah, blah. Ms. Guillermoprieto is a wonderful writer, and her memoir is in an interesting location and time period, but enough with the guilt already!
Historical fiction looking at Cuba from the eyes of an American ballet dancer who goes there to teach. An easy and enjoyable read.
The book is an interesting look at life in Cuba for a period in the 60's but was difficult to get through at times.
Mar 01, 2010 Shuriu is currently reading it
I prefer to read her articles. I think she used to dance with Merce Cunningham. I'm struggling to get into this book.
Good read for anyone interested in Cuban history/revolution or those interested in Latin American topics.
terrific memoir... took me back to cuba, even though this took place 30+ years before i was there.
This is a neat little story about modern dance and the earlier days of the Cuban revolution.
William H
really good book on the culture of Cuba post revolution- and from a great writer!
good read if you are interested in cuba of the 70`s..
Sara Hohenadel
a fantastic blend of history, intrigue and dancing.
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Guillermoprieto was born and grew up in Mexico City. In her teens, she moved to New York City with her mother where she studied modern dance for several years. From 1962 until 1973, she was a professional dancer.

Her first book, Samba (1990), was an account of a season studying at a samba school in Rio de Janeiro.

In the mid-1970s, she started her career as a journalist for The Guardian, moving late
More about Alma Guillermoprieto...
The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America Samba 72 migrantes Dancing with Cuba: A Memoir of the Revolution (Vintage)

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