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To Dance Like A Man: Triplets In Havana
Sussex-based filmmaker Sylvie Collier’s 2009 film about Cuban painter and ceramicist José Fuster aired on Sky Arts and played at Chichester International Film Festival.
However, the real fruits may come from its follow up, To Dance Like A Man: Triplets In Havana.
When someone contacted Collier after seeing the Fuster documentary The Crab, The Crocodile And Love In Cuba and wanted to know if she’d heard about identical triplets in a ballet school in Cuba, she knew she was onto something unusual.
“They are completely unique,” she explains, before the hour-long documentary shows at Brighton’s Cinecity film festival tonight.
“There is no other trio of boy ballet dancers anywhere or ever has been that anyone has ever heard of. Twins yes but identical triplets, no.
“I couldn’t not make a film about them.”
Collier worked as a producer and director for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. She has run her own production company, Pond Pictures, for 12 years.
She was so determined to document the ten-year-old triplets, Angel, César and Marcos, she paid for the trip herself – before any broadcasters had given her backing.
The film was made over several visits to the country and to the school where the boys were training for places at the highly respected National Ballet of Cuba.
“They are extraordinarily articulate,” says Collier of the boys who are so alike their father describes them as three parts of one whole.
“Their responses when I was talking to them were completely natural, unrehearsed. I couldn’t believe children at that age could express themselves so well.
“They are very serious in intending to become great ballet dancers. They do rigorous days. They get up at six, study academic objects, then do ballet classes. There isn’t a lot of time for much else.”
Though they are unusually mature, she admits she wonders how much it is their decision.
Their father is a jewellery maker and proud his sons are learning ballet.
But it reflects well on a society, believes Collier.
“It’s a Latin culture, so I guess people from the outside would expect a Latin culture not to be anxious to have a lot of male dancers.
“But they have trained people who have become very well known dancers internationally.
“It’s just another profession and it’s accepted.”
Its approval is helped by the country’s focus on promoting the arts among young people. Cuba pays all the boys’ fees to study.
“All of Cuba is supportive of its young people,” she explains, explaining she had to have official permission to make the film.
“There is a terrific emphasis on the arts and culture. Havana is a very sophisticated city – from ballet to jazz and classical and dance music.”
The people love film and her documentary was shown to 1,000 people, many of them from the ballet school, in the Havana Film Festival last December.
The snapshot, which culminates with a production of Peter And The Wolf, is a dance film and human interest film, says Collier, who will return to get the next chapter.
“Some time has passed so they will be progressing and it is my intention to make another film.
“My worry is they are going to be turned into little celebrities.”
- University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton, Saturday, December 1. Starts 6.30pm, tickets £6. Call 0871 9025728