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  • Robin Yong

Monica 莫妮卡



She is now one of the most popular and most photographed Ballerina in Cuba...Monica, from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

The National Ballet of Cuba is the most important Cuban dance company in the country and one of the five best classical ballet companies in the world, after the Paris Opera, the London Royal Ballet, the American Ballet Theater and the Bolshoi Ballet. The ballet academy in Havana has high standards and churns out only 40 graduates a year. Students for the National Ballet School are handpicked by the Ballet itself and trained from childhood. Ballet dancers are considered celebrities in Cuba and a much respected occupation. Professional Ballet Dancers Are paid USD$30 a month, a lowly salary by world standards but on par with the salary of doctors in Havana.

I have always been fascinated by ballet dancers...their ever so graceful movements and poses...and I couldn't believe my luck when I chanced upon a meeting with a real ballet dancer from one of the finest organisations in the world...

My chance meeting with Monica occurred in 2018. Monica was getting some portraits done by another photographer friend of mine when I was in Havana, so we decided to do some street portraits. Monica speaks great English and we hit it off immediately. This photo was taken at a staircase of some public housing in old Havana. And as usual with most of my Travel Portraits, 100% natural lighting only. The scene looks like a film still from a 1950s movie...so happy to have such wonderful memories of my travels in Havana, because for me, Every travel needs to be what it is to be in a dream...a beautiful wanderlust...just like a scene out of the movies...

Except that these people I meet and photographed are all real...

And every moment is because we made it so....

Because some photographs are just impossible when the relationship is not there....


Thank you Monica, for all the wonderful memories...can't wait to get back to Havana again when the pandemic is over...

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