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."