DANCING WITH CUBA: A Memoir of the Revolution

Alma Guillermoprieto, Author , trans. from the Spanish by Esther Allen. Pantheon $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-375-42093-1

Journalist Guillermoprieto (Looking for History ; The Heart That Bleeds ; etc.) revisits the six months in 1970 she spent teaching modern dance in Cuba. At the state-supported school where she finds neither mirrors nor music, but dedicated yet ill-trained students, Guillermoprieto realizes she's embarked on a journey that would "thoroughly unravel my life." Her intense commitment to art may seem a contrast to the revolution and its aftermath, yet it provides a jumping-off point for her book about dance, which is really about Cuba and a political coming-of-age. As the then 20-year-old former student of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham makes the "inimitable elastic flow" of dance visible, she discusses her political education through composite characters, invented dialogue and reconstructed letters. The detail can be daunting, pedestrian even, but the experience is always lifelike. Guillermoprieto captures the complexity of a revolution that scared and bewildered but attracted her. The racism, homophobia and police activities stir "the insidious counterrevolutionary" within, but do not still the discovery that she "belonged to a wider community than that of my friends and fellow dancers." In Nicaragua several years later, Guillermoprieto finds her second calling—journalism—yet she doesn't leave dance behind. It informs her political analysis as she looks back to the failure of the Ten Million Ton Harvest: "any dancer could have told Fidel that the movements of the dance of [harvesting sugarcane]... can't be learned in a single day." Agent, Gloria Loomis. (Feb. 10)

Reviewed on: 12/08/2003
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 183 pages - 978-0-307-42544-7
Paperback - 290 pages - 978-0-375-72581-4
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