My Cuba

Laura Rodriguez: To Dance

We follow a ballet dancer in Carlos Acosta’s dance company as she strives to overcome a knee injury before a premiere.

Laura Rodriguez Quesada is one of 25 dancers with Acosta Danza, a new Havana dance company founded by Carlos Acosta, the famous ballet dancer and Cuban star of the Royal Ballet in Britain.

Acosta Danza’s vision is to meld the traditionally separate worlds of classical and contemporary dance.

Rodriguez lives with her boyfriend Jesus Corrales in Centro Havana, the most densely-populated neighbourhood in the Cuban capital. They moved there from Camaguey after successfully auditioning to join Acosta’s company.

I do have many fantasies like many people, but I think I have never tried to see my future. I'd rather focus on today, the present. I think as long as I grow as a person and as a dancer every day, in a way I am guaranteeing my future.

by Laura Rodriguez Quesada, ballet dancer

Both are thrilled to be able to work with Acosta as competition to get in is stiff.

Each year, 300 world-class ballet dancers graduate from schools across Cuba. 

“We never imagined either of us would be in Carlos’ dance company,” Rodriguez says.

“In the beginning it was a bit difficult for me because when I danced with him [Acosta] I didn’t know how to address him. How formal to be with him. But he … gives you that confidence,” Rodriguez explains.

Acosta, in turn, is humbled by the talent found in Cuba.

“Cuba dancers, they are passionate, they are hungry for it. They really love what they do and they give you their life, and I think it’s very contagious, and it is really inspiring to work with them,” Acosta says.

Among her peers, Rodriguez is considered a rising star. Dancing and performing for an audience is what she loves most.

“I think nerves are part of each presentation. I once heard someone saying if you don’t get nervous it’s because something is failing, because you are no longer excited, no longer motivated. But I think my reaction is different from others. I tend to be very calm,” she says.

Rodriguez is set to dance with Acosta in the company’s premiere at the Gran Teatro Alicia Alonso in Havana.

A knee injury might make it impossible, however, and Rodriguez isn’t sure if she’ll be ready to dance in time.

As she strives to be fit for the premiere, this film gives us an intimate look into the simple, daily lives of Rodriguez and Corrales, and the world of Cuban ballet, as the two dance alongside the country’s best.

See more from Al Jazeera English’s My Cuba series here