Another Little Taste of ProDanza

Rehearsal Part II

Here are the other two students that performed for us on June 16th.  This is the first time that I have seen a male ballet dancer in pointe shoes.  A lot of passion in their performances!CUBA2016-2069CUBA2016-2065CUBA2016-2052CUBA2016-2049CUBA2016-2048CUBA2016-2017CUBA2016-2012CUBA2016-2011CUBA2016-2010


Hanging out


Enjoying the applause from our appreciative group


Some illustrations of ballet attire needs at ProDanza

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Feel free to donate as little as you want! All will be appreciated! We can purchase a pair of ballet slippers for as little as $20! We have boots on the ground in Havana thanks to Cicely Sanchez of Altruvistas, who can facilitate the deliveries.

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A Taste of ProDanza…

A Taste of ProDanza…

A rehearsal for our group on June 16, 2016

The respected teacher!

We watched her teaching a class and then we were treated to a nice rehearsal starring 4 students.  This blog post will feature photos of two of the four.


Featured dancers

Together they were magic




Such talent and energy in extreme heat! I left money there for them to buy two ceiling fans, which should be of some help!  More photos to follow in next blog post, building to one featuring our outdoor photo shoot on the 17th with the ballerinas in the tutus that Anne and Lynette Sullivan made and transported to Havana.


Feel free to donate as little as you want! All will be appreciated! We can purchase a pair of ballet slippers for as little as $20! We have boots on the ground in Havana thanks to Cicely Sanchez of Altruvistas, who can facilitate the deliveries.

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image.jpegJoyous trip to Miami airport this morning, but our plane was to take off for Havana at 2PM, and it hasn’t even arrived yet!

Four bags of ballet gear will be in the hold of the plane!

More from Havana later!









The travelers are all busy packing their bags for tomorrow’s flight to Miami. We will all meet up at the Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel and then have dinner at the Catch of the Day, our traditional dinner spot the night before the flight to Havana.

The photo above was taken at the ProDanza Ballet Academy in November, 2015 during our first visit as Team ProDanza.

Going to Cuba differs from most trips in that everything has to be paid in cash, and there is no place to buy anything that one might inadvertently forgotten.  This causes a slight degree of anxiety, and makes one tend to overpack.  We are also taking some things for our trusty guides Cecily, Nestor and Alain.  Francesca has some costumes for little ones that were donated by Lynn Welters of the New School of Dance in DC.  I have a whole suitcase filled with ballet shoes, leotards, tights, etc.

Saying goodbye to my Chickpea, the dancing dog!



Feel free to donate as little as you want! All will be appreciated! We can purchase a pair of ballet slippers for as little as $20! Planning to go back with more get in the next year!

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Celebrating the End of Sewing!

Celebrating the End of Sewing!

Introducing the Kiwis!

Anne and Ken  Sullivan are my next door neighbors, and not only are they smart and fun, but they have been my saviors many times!  Ken, when he is in the country, is my tech support, the guy who gets into the outdoor sump pump in the middle of a torrential downpour and a great bartender on his deck (pronounced like Dick with a New Zealand accent).

Anne is a gardener extraordinaire and makes the best jams and chutneys. It was Anne that I went to when I needed some ballet skirts to take to ProDanza for a photo shoot. Little did I know what a fantastic job she would do.

Last week Ken’s sister Lynette arrived from Auckland, New Zealand and dove right in to help with the ballet skirts!  I have never seen such enthusiasm – she was even talking about starting a cottage industry. Sounds great to me, but not so much to Anne.

Charley's Aunt and assistants
A little silliness to start

They are such great sports that they came out to the yard for a few photographs, and Ken joined in to help toss the scarves, which as you will see, didn’t turn out exactly as we expected.  Ken, being an ingenious sort of fellow, came up with an idea involving a chair and a rake.


It seemed promising, but…


This is the best that we could do! Hopefully, things will be smoother in Havana!

Tutus and ribbons
Photo shoot 


Even though we leave on Tuesday, if more funds come in we will be able to purchase a ceiling fan or two while in Havana! No air conditioning at the Academy!

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The Sweat Shop!

The Sweat Shop!

I just paid a quick visit to our busy sweat shop, where my two highly-paid (pre $15 minimum wage) workers, Anne and Lynette, were hard at work making ballet skirts for our photo shoot at ProDanza Ballet Academy in two weeks. They are sisters-in-law, good friends and they had me in stitches (really!) with their lively badinage. Obviously, they have known each other for many years and are very good at teasing each other in a gentle way. Two sizes are being made, both adjustable. The blue will be for the older girls, and the pink for the little ones.

We are also experimenting with long scarves for the kids to throw in the air during the photo session. The tulle seems a bit too light in weight. Lynette attached a small pair of scissors to the end of one, and then, for some reason it was too heavy, not to mention a little too dangerous. Back to the drawing board on that one! Suggestions for a material in the comments would be most appreciated!

The photo is of the ladies showing some of their handiwork! Lynette is on the left, and just arrived from New Zealand two days ago. Where is her jet lag? I saw no sign of it.  They are going to be fun traveling companions!



Anne and Lynette are praying that there will be some donations as a result of your seeing their incredible dedication to the project! PayPal is very secure!

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Thank You for your donations!

Julia, Peg and Franny
La Guarida, Havana, Cuba

Muchos Gracias to Team ProDanza friends Frances West, Kathryn Porterfield, Pam Wetherbee and Nancy Schilling. Thanks to their PayPal donations I was able to order 18 pairs of ballet slippers, 5 pairs of tights and 5 leotards to take with me on June 14th!

The photo at the top of the page is (l to r) Julia Mariño, Peg McCarty and Fran West at the party celebrating Peter Turnley‘s photo retrospective at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana last November. What a wonderful show and celebration of his life’s work!


There is still time to donate for us to get some gear before we leave on June 14th! Everything helps! We can purchase a pair of ballet slippers for as little as $20! Even $5 will purchase a ballet bun cover!

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Preparing to Travel to ProDanza

Preparing to Travel to ProDanza

Anne Sullivan, native New Zealander and American citizen for the last two years, has kindly agreed to make ballet skirts for us to take to Havana to use for a photo op with the ballet students there. Being the good sport that she is, I was able to coax her out to her backyard to do some posing for me so that you can see what we will be taking. The skirt that she models will be what we use for the older female students, and she is making pink skirts for the little girls. A lot of work is going into this, but it will be worth it when we get to see the girls posing with the antique American cars that are all over Havana!

Anne and Chickpea
Sitting on the steps

Chickpea, my little rescue Havanese from Kuwait, enjoyed watching the antics, and posed with Anne on her steps. He enjoyed having a tulle scarf around his neck (see the smile).

Anne at the Barre
Subaru Forester make a great barre

Anne demonstrates how a car makes a great barre!  In Havana we will be using a pink 59 Chevy Convertible or something similar!


Pink Convertible
Havana, Cuba

Wouldn’t this car look terrific surrounded with ballet students?


Feel free to donate as little as you want! All will be appreciated! We can purchase a pair of ballet slippers for as little as $20!

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Welcome to Team ProDanza!

Welcome to Team ProDanza!

This blog will tell you about my project to raise funds to provide the ProDanza Ballet Academy in Havana, Cuba with ballet gear and other necessary equipment to keep this vibrant school healthy and safe for all of its students.

The Center ProDanza of Cuba was established on December 30 of 1994 under the direction of the Grand Maitre de Ballet Laura Alonso, derived from the Department of Specialized Teaching Ballet Nacional de Cuba, in which they had created the basis for promoting technical Cuban Ballet School.

The center is located in an old country house known as the home fifth in the figures, located on Avenida 51 Esquina a 118, No. 11805, Mariano, La Habana, Cuba.  The building is grand, but in need of much repair. The students are eager and hard-working, but in need of ballet clothing.  Currently, there is no place in Cuba to buy ballet clothing, so it is imported in the suitcases of travelers, such as myself.

Although the environment is modest, this institution has contributed to the formation of classical dance talents, now recognized figures in various international companies such as José Manuel Carreño, principal dancer ofAmerican Ballet Theatre, Xiomara Reyes, prima ballerina of American Ballet Theatre, Arionel Vargas, solo Royal Winnipeg Ballet of Canada, Yat-Sen Chang, first dancer of the British National Ballet, among others.

I first traveled to Havana in March, 2015 as a student in the Peter Turney photography workshop. We visited ProDanza one afternoon, and I was completed charmed by the students, who were so warm to us, and so dedicated to learning classical ballet. As a photographer, I couldn’t help but notice the dilapidated condition of their tights and shoes.

Upon returning to Virginia, I had the idea to do what I could to raise money for new clothing, and set up an Indiegogo site.  I also made plans to return in November, 2015 to deliver clothing.  Many friends, relatives and colleagues donated generously to this project, so I was able to take a large collection to the school and personally deliver to Laura Alonso.

In addition, Capezio generously donated clothing for 50 male students, which we had delivered later.

A few months ago I managed to get the school a large screen TV for them to watch themselves performing. Malia Everette and Cicely Sanchez, of AltruVistas were kind enough to help purchase it and deliver it to the school.

We are going back to Havana June 15th and will be delivering more clothing, etc.  Some of my regular travelers will be along, including Peg McCarty, Nancy Moon and Francesca Scott.  They are such good support!

If you’d like to donate, please click on the Donate button, and the payment will be processed through PayPal.



Thank you for your donation!

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