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Dancing With Cuba

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3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  242 Ratings  ·  29 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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Pickle Farmer
Jan 06, 2011 Pickle Farmer rated it really liked it
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
D
Nov 10, 2013 D rated it it was amazing
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
...more
sara fasy
Jun 12, 2007 sara fasy rated it really liked it
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
Diane C.
Dec 05, 2013 Diane C. rated it liked it
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
...more
Kameka
Jul 29, 2007 Kameka rated it really liked it
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
Kristina
Jul 12, 2016 Kristina rated it really liked it
I found this book fascinating from the perspective of a dancer describing her craft and a window into life in Castro's Cuba. What I didn't expect was to find some solace in the confusion, frustration, and uncertainty of the author as she lived through and processed the politics of the time. I read this primarily to learn more about Cuban history without the stuffiness of a history book (which Guillermoprieto certainly delivered) and was also given a sort of salve to help me through this difficul ...more
Erin
Apr 26, 2011 Erin rated it it was amazing
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
Sarah
Apr 19, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
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.
Claire
Sep 05, 2007 Claire rated it liked it
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.
Karyn
Jun 16, 2008 Karyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
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.
Smithky
Nov 12, 2008 Smithky rated it liked it
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!
Kathy
Dec 11, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative reading for anyone traveling to Cuba. Lots of details about the influence of Castro on other Latin American countries. It's also interesting to read about Guillermoprieto's mindsets concerning her teaching and revolutionary attitudes and about how she changed careers after leaving Cuba.
Ruth
Aug 19, 2007 Ruth rated it really liked it
Shelves: bedsidereading, dance
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!
Jamie
Jul 14, 2011 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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.
Lorie
Jun 18, 2013 Lorie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
G
Jun 19, 2008 G rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-ground
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.
Rick Edwards
Jul 24, 2011 Rick Edwards rated it really liked it
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.
Carol
Dec 10, 2016 Carol rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. But I found it a little plodding. Worse, it felt bizarrely self-indulgent to me. All the sanctimonious revolutionary fervor mixed with snark about others and self-loathing was difficult to slog through.
Pinky
Dec 06, 2010 Pinky rated it really liked it
good read if you are interested in cuba of the 70`s.. ...more
Jen
Nov 28, 2010 Jen rated it liked it
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.
Courtney
Sep 09, 2008 Courtney rated it really liked it
Good read for anyone interested in Cuban history/revolution or those interested in Latin American topics.
Sara Hohenadel
Feb 23, 2010 Sara Hohenadel rated it really liked it
a fantastic blend of history, intrigue and dancing.
Melinda
Nov 27, 2007 Melinda rated it really liked it
Historical fiction looking at Cuba from the eyes of an American ballet dancer who goes there to teach. An easy and enjoyable read.
Anna Cordova
Apr 03, 2015 Anna Cordova rated it really liked it
Fascinating look at Cuba in the time of Castro. Learned a lot!
Shuriu
Mar 01, 2010 Shuriu marked it as to-read
I prefer to read her articles. I think she used to dance with Merce Cunningham. I'm struggling to get into this book.
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!
William H
May 03, 2007 William H rated it really liked it
really good book on the culture of Cuba post revolution- and from a great writer!
Gretel
Gretel rated it really liked it
Aug 25, 2014
Michelle
Michelle rated it really liked it
May 23, 2010
Jennine
Jennine rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2016
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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
More about Alma Guillermoprieto...

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“Yet this is not a novel. It is a faithful transcription of my memories, some of them hazy, others riddled with holes left by the passage of the years, others patched up by time and the filters of experience and distance, and still others, no doubt, completely invented by the stubborn narrator we all have within us, who wants things to be the way they sound best to us now, and not the way they were.” 0 likes
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