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Cinematography/Production Design/Locations
Bringing Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights to the screen meant recreating a city that, to a large extent, no longer exists. Ferland's research into Havana revealed an architecturally grand and beautiful capitol, where Spanish, Moorish, Italian, Greek and Roman-styled buildings came together under the tropical sun. As the director explains, "Havana was a colonial city for 400 years and there were many, many different cultural influences. I wanted to emphasize the city's international flavor, its continental aspects. So when Katey arrives there, she's surprised at the vastness and the romantic quality. It's a Havana we really don't see that much of in movies today.”

In honing his visual approach for the film, Ferland took inspiration from European cinema as well as the works of filmmakers Vincente Minnelli and Bob Fosse. "I liked the idea of sun-baked streets and a hot, almost haunting atmosphere with women dressed up in high-heeled shoes walking down those cobble-stoned streets. I watched many Italian films and immersed myself in a ton of art books to get ideas for colors,” Ferland remembers. He and director of photography Anthony Richmond sought to create a style that echoed a dancer's fluid movements. "We wanted the film to be very lively, but at the same time we didn't want to have so much camera movement that it would take audiences out of the period.”

The streets of Puerto Rico, where Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was filmed, proved to be a good double for the streets of Havana. Says production designer Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski, "Filming in Puerto Rico, we were able to capture the feel of Havana's streets - the golden, warm tropical light, the idea that people live outside as much as they do inside.”

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was shot primarily in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico's second largest city. The narrow cobblestone streets and pastel buildings of Old San Juan recalled their counterparts in Old Havana, while the island's beaches provided magical settings for the film's ocean sequences. By far the biggest challenge came in creating the film's opulent fictitious hotels, the Palace and the Oceana, because there was no single building in Puerto Rico that could stand in for either location as a whole. The Palace became an amalgam of several Puerto Rican buildings – a stairway in one structure, a balcony in another. For the Oceana, which was modeled on Havana's famed Hotel Nacional, Luczyc-Wyhowski and his team built a façade for the lobby in addition to creating a comfortable suite for the Miller family.

The design elements of La Rosa Negra, where ordinary Cubans go to dance, were much simpler to put together. Luczyc-Wyhowski drew from research to create a small, steamy nightclub where the walls are dark and shiny from years of bodies moving together. Pictures of Cuban boxers are another reminder of ordinary life.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights shows yet another side of Havana in its country club sequence. In contrast to the crumbling streets of Old Havana, the country club is a gleaming modern structure designed to please the wealthy sophisticates and business interests that flocked to Cuba in the postwar period. Notes Luczyc-Wyhowski, "There was a massive amount of money invested in Cuba in the 50s. The influence of American culture and money was represented in quite a number of modern structures that were built in Havana. We shot the country club scene at the Bacardi factory, which is very similar to a lot of modern structures in Havana.”

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