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To Dance Like A Man – Sky documentary

The ballet loving Castellano triplets.<br />© Sky Arts/Sylvie Collier.
The ballet loving Castellano triplets.
© Sky Arts/Sylvie Collier.

UK Sky Arts 2,
Friday April 11th 6:40pm

90 sec YouTube trailer
To Dance Like a Man web page/pdf

This is a charming documentary film about eleven year old identical triplets who love to dance. Angel, César and Marcos Castellano live in Havana, and attend the National Ballet School of Cuba, and this film follows the three boys with their identical engaging smiles, sparkling brown eyes and outgoing personalities as they pursue their dream—to one day dance with the National Ballet of Cuba.

The film, made by Sylvie Collier, has won several awards including ‘Best Documentary’ at the International Film Festival in Chichester.  We watch the triplets strolling along the dusty streets of Havana, arriving at school in their red shorts and white shirts, climbing the grand staircase of the ballet school, first observing older male students and then putting on their black ballet slippers for their own daily class. Here they concentrate on their daily exercises, knowing that an audition is approaching for roles in a big school production of Peter and the Wolf—and they each want to be in it.

The Castellanos are the first triplets to study at the National Ballet School and several members of staff comment on how incredible it is to find three boys so alike, not only in physicality but in their equal ability to dance. All agree that there is promising talent in each of them.

After a long and strenuous day at school, the boys return home where they continue to practise their jumps and turns in the tiny living room. At one point their legs are stretched and massaged by their mother, who has been taught what to do by the school. A knock at the door reveals a famous visitor—the international ballet dancer and the boys’ idol, Jose Mauel Carreno, who has come for a chat and to pass on hints about being a male dancer.

The film is colourful and gives glimpses of daily life in Cuba today; and much time is spent in the classrooms, watching the strict discipline of a dancer’s training, and at rehearsals for the school production at Havana’s Grand Theatre. But most of all, hearts are won over by the enchanting young boys, who appear unspoilt and unaffected by the continuous attention that they get both in school and out. Their smiles make the day brighter.

About the author

Margaret Willis

Margaret Willis’s interest in ballet stems from a five-year stay in the former Soviet Union (1976-81) where she studied classical ballet and began writing on dance. Visiting Cuba in 1990, she first saw Carlos Acosta and has continued to follow his stellar career. She was a member of London City Ballet from 1990-3, performing principal character roles, is the author of Russian Ballet on Tour and contributed several articles for the International Dictionary of Ballet. She writes regularly for The Dancing Times, Dance Magazine and international publications. In 1986, she was the researcher for a BBC-TV documentary on the Bolshoi Ballet and in 2010 wrote "Carlos Acosta: The Reluctant Dancer" (Arcadia books).


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