An exciting new book, Cuban Ballet, hits the bookshelves later this month. The author, Octavio Roca, is a well-informed and well-placed writer of this subject. Roca is a former music & dance critic for The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald and the Miami New Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Roca studied at Emory and Georgetown Universities and taught philosophy, as well as lecturing on arts at the Smithsonian Institution.
He grew up watching his ballerina mother dancing in Cuba’s Ballet de Pro-Arte Musical, and has been involved with ballet & the Cuban dancers his whole life. Featured in his book are Cuban sisters Lorena Feijóo (now dancing with San Francisco Ballet) and Lorna Feijóo (with Boston Ballet).
Roca’s Amazon page mentions the forward to Cuban Ballet, written by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who writes : “What makes the Cuban dancers stand out, I think, is their ethics. They have a respect for ballet from an early age. It’s been said before that no one is born a dancer; you have to want it more than anything. These Cubans want it and feel privileged to be a part of it. They give themselves completely. I know that Octavio Roca’s love of Cuba is as profound as his knowledge of ballet, and I know this book is from his heart.”
So too has the founder of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Alicia Alonso : “Cubans are a dancing people. Dance matters to us, and it matters deeply. Octavio Roca, whom I have known for decades and who has known us his whole life, has seen our dancers at home and abroad as well as on tour and with other companies. As a guest of the International Ballet Festival in Havana, Octavio Roca was able to observe the Cuban dance movement in its own environment and to witness the Cuban School of Ballet in all its richness. For me, his critical writing on dance carries a unique sensitivity to an art for he clearly loves.”
Cuban Ballet is published in the UK on 15th August 2010.