Havana, Cuba


Photographer: Rebekah Bowman

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In Cuba, ballet is not just for an elite few. Since 1959, the year when Fidel Castro came to power in the Cuban revolution, the country’s national ballet school, known since 2015 as National Ballet School “Fernando Alonso”, has brought ballet culture to a broad audience with popular, inexpensive performances. Its classes are free and enrolment is open to all. But the national ballet school is not the only place in Cuba that sees ballet as being of public benefit. Since 1972, “Psychoballet”, an expressive therapy that uses classical ballet as a tool for corrective treatment, has been used to rehabilitate people with a wide range of special needs. Psychoballet was created after Cuban psychologist Georgina Fariñas and the Department of Psychiatry at Angel Hospital Arturo Aballít in Havana asked the Cuban National Ballet to see if it could come up with ways of using classical dance to treat a group of aggressive children who hadn’t responded to the usual therapies and medicines. The programme which emerged, focused on exploring the dynamics that exist between movement and emotion, has proved enormously successful, helping the rehabilitation of more than 20,000 people in Cuba and many others in countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Rebekah Bowman's photo-story won third place in our worldwide open call for submissions.