Culture

Cuban Professional Ballet Dancers Are Paid $30 Per Month, That’s The Same Amount Doctors Are Paid On The Island

There are a lot of beautiful things that come to mind when you think of Cuba. Cuisine, art, history… rum. But few know that the small island in the Caribean is also home to one of the most celebrated arts in the world. As it turns out, when it comes to dancem the Cuban Ballet Company brings pretty much world-class standard to the art of ballet. 

So next time you want to impress a hottie with your worldly knowledge, maybe throw a few of our obscure facts out and watch them swoon over your smarts.

1. It was founded in 1948.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The official founding date of the Cuban Ballet Company is October 28, 1948. 

2. The official school for the company is the Cuban National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

While the Cuban National Ballet School isn’t technically the Cuban Ballet Company, the two are pretty much intertwined. It means that students from the School can usually take it for granted that once they graduate, they can begin dancing for the Company.

3. The Cuban Ballet Company was founded by a husband and wife duo.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Prima ballerina Alicia Alonso and her husband, Alberto, were the founders for “Ballet Alicia Alonso.” Two years later, the two also established “Alicia Alonso Academy of Ballet.” By 1956, the pair saw their businesses transformed into the Cuban Ballet Company and Cuban National Ballet School, respectively. It’s worth noting that while the two of them founded the Company and School, Alicia Alonso has been the real driving force behind them.

4. Dancers in the company earn $30 a month.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Since it’s a communist regime, Cuban doctors and skilled workers earn the same amount.

5. The National Ballet School provides courses for international students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

This is a must-know for any of you who want to study ballet professionally. The International Dance Program is directed by Alicia Alonso herself! 

6. The Cuban Ballet Company incorporates Latin American culture into its dance techniques.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Apparently, the Cuban dance form draws from its Ibero-America, Caribbean roots.

7. Unlike a lot of other countries, both the Cuban Ballet Company and the National Ballet School are funded by the state.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

And it has been since 1959 when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.

8. That being said, the Company and School weren’t always so talented.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Despite the fact that the two were regarded as highly artistic and talented cohorts, they struggled for money during their early years. Before 1959, they had to make ends meet without any assistance from the state.

9. Over the years, the Cuban Ballet Company has performed the likes of “Giselle,” “The Swan Lake,” and “Coppélia.”

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

In doing so, the Company both choreographed and performed completely new versions of these classics. Impressive, no?

10. Students for the National Ballet School are handpicked by the Ballet itself.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Talent scouts travel the country searching for new talent, searching for gifted students in over 14 provinces.

11. The School follows strict criteria when it seeks new students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Gifted students are usually trained from childhood. In order to be eligible, these kids must have good musicality, the right body proportions, and the ability to follow simple steps.

12. The National Ballet School doesn’t just teach dance.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Once students have been accepted into the School, they typically dance from 7 am to 1:30 pm. Afterward, they then learn the French language, piano, how to read music, folklore, and a whole array of different dances.

13. It takes eight years to graduate from the National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

So, if you ever get the chance to see the Cuban Ballet Company, know that they’ve worked very hard to get where they are today!

14. The National Ballet School turns out 40 students per year.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Imagine graduating from your school, knowing there are only 39 other students graduating at the same time as you. Wild.

15. The Cuban Ballet Company has created more than 600 works.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

And it’s also performed in more 60 countries worldwide. Having the Cuban Ballet Company on your resume is seen as a huge plus if you’re a ballet dancer, as it’s pretty much considered to be the top echelon of ballet training and professionalism. 

16. On its 50th anniversary, the Ballet and Alicia Alonso were awarded Lazaro Pena Order.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Given to the Alonso by Castro himself, this is the highest civil decoration that is given in Cuba.

17. While the Ballet is highly regarded in Cuba, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its defections.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Cuban Ballet Company traveled to the US for the first time in 2003. It was during this time that five members defected, as they sought to join American ballet troupes instead.

18. Believe it or not, but Alicia Alonso still directs The Nutcracker at the Valencia Main Theatre.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

She’s literally 98 years old, almost blind, and is still the general director of the Ballet. What. A. Woman. Granted, while there have been calls to have someone else take over, Alonso keeps on with her work. Chances are, she’s never really been held back by the fact that she’s almost blind – Alonso has been working with an eye condition throughout her entire life. 

19. The Cuban Ballet Company performs to cheering crowds.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Everyone knows Cubans know how to tur up. And it’s the same when the dancers perform. This is largely due to the fact that the arts are highly regarded in Cuba. 

20. A documentary was made about the Cuban Ballet Company.

PBS / Mirror Dance

Well, sort of. “Mirror Dance” follows the lives of Cuban-born identical twins, Ramona and Margarita de Saá, as they navigate their roles in the Ballet and international politics. In fact, Ramona is currently the director of the Escuela Nacional de Ballet in Cuba.

21. Did we mention that the Cuban Ballet Company founder Alicia Alonso is a Prima Ballerina Assoluta?

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

For those of you who need to brush up on your ballet terms, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” is a rare title awarded to ballet dancers who have had a prestigious international career, or have given exceptional service to a particular ballet company. While there’s no universal procedure for awarding the title, usually a ballet company, government or head of state is responsible for recognizing the efforts of the ballet dancer in question. And Alicia Alonso? She’s had such a long, storied ballet career, it’s undeniable that she epitomizes the role of a Prima Ballerina Assoluta.

22. The Cuban Ballet Company’s principal venue can be found in Havana.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Great Theatre of Havana is where a lot of the Company’s performances can be seen. As much as it’s a huge effort to have to travel to Havana to see the Company in action, we can imagine that their familiarity with the stage must make their performances that much more amazing!

23. The Cuban Ballet Company is known as the “Ballet Nacional de Cuba” in Spanish.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

It makes sense, really, since it’s the top tier ballet company in Cuba.

24. The founder of the Cuban Ballet Company was still dancing into her 70s.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Alicia Alonso gave her last performance in 1993 when she was 72.

25. Some of the very first dancers at the Cuban National Ballet School include Ernesto Alvarez, Sadaise Arencibia, Elier Bourzac, and Joel Carreno.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

If you couldn’t guess, these dancers are a very big deal when it comes to ballet.

Which fact surprised you the most? Let us know on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Culture

Google Launches Faces Of Frida So You Can Pass The Time Learning About The Artist’s Life

Google

Few artists have reached the level of fame as Frida Kahlo. The Mexican painter is more than an artist. Kahlo is a point of cultural pride that transcends nationality within the Latino community and unites Latino art lovers in their le of Latin American art. Now, Google, in the time of self-isolation, is giving everyone a chance to learn about the iconic painter.

Google wants to give everyone a chance to learn about Frida Kahlo with its online “Faces of Frida” exhibit.

Credit: Google

Anyone who visits the “Face of Frida” exhibit can browse through the artist’s incredible paintings. Kahlo is one of the most influential artists the world has ever known. Her fame and people’s admiration continue to this day with tributes still appearing around the world for the Mexican artist.

Viewers can decide which museum’s Frida Kahlo collection they want to explore.

Credit: Google

The exhibit is made possible by 32 museums from around the world collaborating to show Frida Kahlo’s impressive and iconic works of art. Museums across four continents shared Kahlo piece from their exhibits with Google to create an exhibit showing more than 800 paintings. Some of the museums include Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the United States, Nagoya City Art Museum in Japan, Fundación MAPFRE in Spain, and Buenos Aires Graffiti in Argentina.

The interactive exhibit is perfect for all Frida Kahlo and art lovers alike. While 3.4 billion people in the world are on lockdown orders, the incredible virtual exhibit of Kahlo’s work gives people a chance to see works of art they haven’t been able to visit yet.

The exhibit is easy to navigate and some of Kahlo’s works have been collected into their own themed galleries.

Credit: Google

Kahlo is most famous for using her own life as the inspiration for her works of art. The artist often played with the themes of pain and death due to her own near-death experiences. Her tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera influenced Kahlo’s work depending on where they were in their relationship. The couple was notorious for taking extra-marital lovers throughout their marriage.

“Faces of Frida” also offers art fans a chance to learn about Kahlo through editorial features.

Credit: Google

Kahlo was one of the most revolutionary women in the world. She moved through space unimpeded by society’s views on her gender and place in society. She was politically engaged and held onto a list of values that many still argue over today. Namely, there have been discussions and think pieces about the sudden commercialized usage of Kahlo’s image and what she might have to say about it. As someone who was opposed to capitalism, it seems safe to say she might not have appreciated herself being used for capitalistic gains.

You can visit “Faces of Frida” by clicking here.

READ: This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

20 Classic Latino Baby Names to Consider

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20 Classic Latino Baby Names to Consider

What is the most adorable battle of sexes that you are ever going to come across? I will give you the answer. It is an expecting couple cribbing, crying and fighting each other on choosing the best baby names. It is hard for a man not to be a fan of Latin American names if he is a football aficionado. Given that we are living in times that shall go down in history books as those that were owned by a Lionel Messi or a Neymar Junior, the names of football stars represent just the tip of the iceberg of human nomenclature in Latin America. Of course, you would not like to discuss footballer names if you have a girlfriend or a wife that has an aversion to football. But then, there are still some amazing female Latino names that pop up when you think of the long list of glitterati in the domains of entertainment, literature, spirituality, and music. Which Latino baby names would you and your partner choose?

Here we present you a compelling list of what we thought are the most common yet powerful names that epitomize the beauty of Latin America’s rich heritage and culture. We start with 10 Latino baby names for boys and then take you through another set of 10 Latino baby names for girls. Take a look.

Latino Baby Names for Boys

Santiago

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@Jenny Silverstone / Pinterest

First on our list is the name Santiago. A direct adaptation of the name of Saint James, in Latin, the name spells spiritual enlightenment, purity, and blissfulness in one breath. Beyond the spiritual connection, Santiago is also the capital of Chile.

Mateo

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@Baby Photos / Facebook

Second on our list of 20 classic Latino names is Mateo. Mateo is a name derived from the Spanish language and literally translates into the phrase of God “gift of God.” The name works really well if you and your life partner consider the boy to be a gift from Almighty.

Alejandro

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@queenz.kat / Pinterest

Third, on our list is a name that is rooted in ancient history. Alejandro is the Spanish variant of the original Greek name Alexander. The name has lived since ages and continues to remind people of what is capable through resolute action.

Third, on our list is a name that is rooted in ancient history. Alejandro is the Spanish variant of the original Greek name Alexander. The name has lived since ages and continues to remind people of what is capable through resolute action.

Diego

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@thebump / Pinterest

Fourth on our list of the best Latino names for baby boys is one that reflects wisdom. Diego is a Spanish name that refers to a teacher. If you and your partner look forward to having a baby boy that can one day evolve into an erudite person, this name certainly fits the bill like no other.

Leo

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@thebump / Pinterest

Fifth on our list of the best Latino names for baby boys is a name that represents the qualities of leadership and the royalty of a lion in the jungle. The name Leo is derived from the Latin language and means a lion. There are similar variants of the name across different languages in the world. The German name Leopold refers to people with the virtues of bravery and valor.

Valentino

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@rosiesradrama / Instagram

Sixth on our list is a name that has its roots in Italian history and is universally associated with virtues of large-heartedness, love, and peace. The name Valentino derives itself from the Italian variant of the Latin Valentinus that has also seen versions in other languages.

Bautista

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@thebump / Instagram

The seventh name unfortunately for wives and girlfriends again reflects back on football. Remember the Mexican footballer Adolfo Bautista. The name Bautista also has a high spiritual dimension in Christianity. Derived from the Spanish language the name refers to someone who has been baptized.

Esteban

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Eighth in the list is a name that again has its roots in Spanish and refers to the crown. You got that guys and gals. Esteban refers to the crown, the ornament that embellishes the heads of the few powerful and privileged ones, i.e. the kings.

Gonzalo

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Ninth on our list is the name Gonzales that means someone that saves from harm. If you couples out there look forward to having a baby boy that can grow up to be the savior of the people in the world, then this name that has its roots in Spanish is just for you.

Angel

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@healthybabies / Twitter

Tenth on our list of names is Angel. Highly popular across Latin American countries like Mexico and Argentina, the name refers to one that is God sent or divine.

Girl Names

Veronica

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

First in the list of girl names in Latin is Veronica. The name traces its roots to the Bible and refers to the maiden that had given her handkerchief to Christ. A popular name in Latin America, it is essentially derived from Spanish.

Valentia

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Second, on our list of baby girl names is Valentia.  A typical Latin name, it symbolizes virtues of bravery and courage and is very popular in South America.

Amada

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Third on our list of baby girl names is Amada. A Spanish name that means loved or beloved, it is perfect for your cute baby girl if you believe in the power of love.

Angelica

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@KateJusko / Pinterest

Third on our list of baby girl names is Amada. A Spanish name that means loved or beloved, it is perfect for your cute baby girl if you believe in the power of love.

Angelica

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@BabyGirl / Pinterest

Fourth on our list of baby names is the name Angelica, the feminine version of the name Angel. Representing the same virtues as the name of her male counterpart, the name derives itself from the Latin language.

Antonia

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@BabyGirl / Pinterest

Fifth on our list of names for baby girls is a name with Roman roots, Antonia. The feminine version of Antony, the name means someone who is invaluable and commendable.

Susanita

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@AfrinShaikh / Pinterest

Sixth on the list of names for your princess is the name Susanita, the Latin adaptation of the English name Suzana. Remember the lyrics of that immortal love song “Suzana I am crazy loving you.”

Amelia

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@AfrinShaikh /Pinterest

Seventh on the list blends names like Emilia and Amalia and is rooted in the Latin language. Amelia is a popular name for baby girls in Latin America and refers to virtues of industriousness and enterprise. It can also refer to someone who is the vanguard of something or people.

Isabella

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@ErikaEskamilla / Pinterest

Eighth on the list is a name that is an adaptation of Elizabeth and refers to one that is devoted to God. A popular name for girls in Latin America, the name reflects the widespread culture of the English, Portuguese and French royals having an Elizabeth in their courts.

Gabriela

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Pinterest@ Erika Eskamilla

Ninth on our list of baby girl names is Gabriela, the feminine version of Gabriel in Hebrew that literally translates into one that God gives strength to. It fits perfectly for parents looking for some divine inspiration from the name of Biblical saints.

Martina

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Pinterest@Haleyyxoo

Last on the list of baby names for girls and also in this collective of 20 classic Latino names is one that is inspired by sportspersons and Olympic champions, the most heard of being Martina Hingis. Martina is a Latin name for girls and has become synonymous with virtues of excellence in sports.

On a final note, you and your partner can continue to fight on all the petty issues of life ranging from football matches disturbing your schedules for candlelight dinners to the time that women take in front of the mirror to adorn themselves. Yet, these 20 classic Latino names should ideally provide you some meeting ground and serve the purpose of reminding you of what stands to be achieved for long lasting world peace! Cheers to your parenthood and choosing the right name for your baby.Toggle