Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph a series of publicity images of prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés from the Cuban National Ballet. Our location was the National School of Ballet in Havana – a beautiful historic building providing a wide range of unique photographic opportunities – and also the home of the next generation of cuban ballet dancers.
Just a few days earlier – I had witnessed Viengsay perform “Diana and Actaeon” on stage together with Brooklyn Mack (Washington Ballet) – where they both received a standing ovation from an ecstatic audience.
So as Viengsai arrived for our photoshoot – it was interesting to witness the immediate impact on the ballet kids in the school. They literally dropped everything and came running to meet and greet their idol. We had to summon teachers to manage the crowd and keep things somewhat under control. Still – ballet kids remained glued to the doors/windows to catch a glimpse of Viengsay – as the snapshots below indicate.
Viengsay was an absolute pleasure to work with. Rarely have I completed my pictures so quickly. Usually – it takes a lot of attempts before you have the right image. A foot is wrong, a hand is wrong, my timing is wrong (most often the case), whatever – something is not right – and I go “let’s do that one just one more time please”. But with Viengsay it was different – her moves were simply spot on every time and we hardly did any retakes. She’s truly an amazing talent!