Andy Garcia and the Feijoo Sisters
Actor and filmmaker Andy Garcia talks about the talents of Lorena and Lorna Feijoo and the identity that bonds them as Cuban exiles.
“They have carino, as we say in Spanish. It’s so obvious when you meet them. You feel their love, their warmth. You can’t help but be taken by their humanity,” says Andy Garcia of Lorena and Lorna Feijoo, whom he describes as members of his extended family.
His relationship with the sisters began in 2003, when he first met Lorena in San Francisco, where he was filming the movie Twisted. As a fellow Cuban exile, he had read about her before they were actually introduced by a mutual friend. Their first meeting took place on the set of the movie, which turned out to be across the street from the studio where she rehearsed.
A short time later, she was in Los Angeles performing Don Quixote and he took his daughters, who were studying ballet, to see her dance. He says they all spent some time backstage together, and the relationship kept going from there. “We obviously had a lot of common ground; we’re artists, our parents came from the same hometowns and, of course, our love of Cuba and its culture.”
In the back of Garcia’s mind was the concept for a film called The Lost City that he had been working on for nearly 15 years. The story was a historical tribute to his native Cuba. “I needed this one dancer who could do both classical and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance in a stylised manner,” he says.
He knew instantly that Lorena was that dancer. “It was a joy to work with her because of her extraordinary artistic capabilities and because she has a historical connection to Cuban ballet and to the country,” he says.
A Bond of Exiles
He has stayed close to Lorena since the film and has gotten to know Lorna better. A bond has developed in part because they are exiles. They share a common love and nostalgia for Cuba but also live the tragedy of exiles.
“There’s an immediate understanding that we’re living with the dream of going back to our country, a free Cuba,” he says. “But there’s also the pain of knowing that you can’t be with what you love if you want to express yourself freely. It’s the greatest possible pain for a creative person.”
But there’s also the joy associated with the culture that bonds them. Innate talent and a drive and deep passion for what they do make them excel, but they also come from a culture where the sensibility for dance is a particular one.
“In Cuba, when we celebrate, we dance,” Garcia says. “There is a strong tradition of the expressive arts, and Lorena and Lorna carry the culture deep within as part of their expressive tools. I suppose that’s why people remark that they dance with such joy. It’s in the blood.”