This Teacher Brought the Cuban Ballet Method to Portugal (and Produced Award-Winning Students)

Students preparing for a performance at the school in Portugal. Photo by Tomé Gonçalves, courtesy of Toba Singer

Cuban-born Annarella Roura Sánchez began her ballet studies at Academia de las Artes Vicentina de la Torre in Camagüey, Cuba. From there, she joined the youth ballet at the Alberto de Paz y Mateos Theater in Venezuela. Years later, she landed in Portugal and became licensed to teach classical ballet and the performing arts and started the Academy of Ballet and Dance in Lisbon. "I learned Portuguese and made the decision to take my dream of having my own Cuban-style school, like those I attended, to Portugal."

But she never cut her strong ties to Cuba. Staying true to her roots, the curriculum was based on the Cuban School of Ballet method.

Annarella Roura Sánchez teaching. Photo by Tomé Gonçalves, courtesy of Toba Singer

Sánchez is committed to bringing Cuban teachers to Portugal. In 2012, six of her top students competed in the Youth American Grand Prix, with one young girl taking second-place honors. In 2013, the school won Best European School at YAGP. This year, the school was honored with the YAGP Outstanding School Award. Her students continue to prove themselves to be among the best in Western Europe.

From left, Caridad Martinez, former principal of National Ballet of Cuba guest-teaching at the school, Sánchez and guests. Photo by Tomé Gonçalves, courtesy of Toba Singer

Here, some of Sánchez's students share what it's like studying at a Cuban-method studio in Portugal.

What it's like studying at a Cuban-method studio?

Margarita Fernandes in Les Sylphides. Photo courtesy of Toba Singer

Margarita Fernándes: "For me, it's an honor, also because my mother is Cuban. It's in my blood. Ours is a method when taken together with others gives you a strong physicality from which to soften your dancing. It's a good base for starting out. It's a pure technique that we would otherwise lack in Portugal. Cuba devotes so much to the art of ballet that it's an example for other countries in world."

Next Page
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.