In Havana’s industrial section, Marianao, there is a gate in an ancient wall. Inside is the crumbling hulk of a decrepit building: Centro Pro Danza. Workmen rig ropes and hoist buckets to the second floor where laborers push wheelbarrows sloshing with concrete past ballet students practicing pliées.
One thousand students come in three shifts every day to study. Canadian funding is making it possible to reconstruct the walls and floors. Ballet schools all over the world send used equipment that their students leave behind.
Laura Alonso escorts me on a walking tour of the school. Men in work shirts work in the courtyard while peeking into the glassless
windows to observe the classes. Noticing the audience, Laura nods, “Humans need to dream. An artist’s job is to open a window into this dream world so others can lean on the window sills and look in.
I think if we really worked at it, we could stop kids from using drugs and alcohol, which is the way they go into the dream state now. Dreaming can get people out of the situation where the only thing they can do is drink and play dominos. We need to take humanity out of that hole. Open windows. Get fresh air. Let dreams in.”