PRIMARIA follows three young dancers throughout four years of their élite elementary Ballet training program in Havana, Cuba. The goal for the children is to make it into the world famous Ballet High School of Cuba at age fifteen.
Alex and Arlette both come from poor families; their mothers work but their fathers have gone missing - a typical scenario for many Cuban families today.
Daniela, on the other hand, comes from relative wealth. Her family, with its deep roots in the former upper class of Havana, has the wherewithal to support her on every level. Unlike most Cuban children, Daniela's motivation to succeed extends beyond economic need; she simply wants to BE a dancer, as a matter of identity. And she'll do whatever takes.
We witness intimate moments at home, tensions during exams, antics on the playground, frustrated teachers deeply invested with their students' success. We're there for the all-critical Grade Report Day, when a single point shift can make or break a young dancer's destiny.
Like its companion film SECUNDARIA (2013), PRIMARIA is a cinematic ode shaped around the intimate details of daily life and the learning process itself.
Between 2007-2011 , I traveled 21 times to Cuba gathering material for both SECUNDARIA and PRIMARIA, each time sneaking in under the gate so to speak. (Even though I was legal it made for a quicker trip through customs.)
As per usual, I filmed alone in order to build a one-on-one relationship with my dancers. Pepe Fábregas, driver for the stars, was my fixer then and my close pal now. Lyda Kuth jumped in early as Co-Producer through her LLC, Nadita Productions.
In each film I focused on what the children did more than on what they said. This lets the composition, light, rhythm, movement - the elements of film language - do the "talking." This is because I was making a movie, not writing a book.