In the outskirts of Havana, neighbors gathered in crowds on a dirt road as they waited for one girl to emerge from her home.
It was Pura’s 15th birthday, her quinceañera, a traditional celebration marking a girl's transition to womanhood.
The tradition in Latino culture dates back to the Aztecs, but in communist Cuba it has been modified, taking new form in photo books which allow girls express themselves by posing in elaborate — and sometimes risqué — ensembles against fantastical backdrops.
The average cost of a quinceañera can range from $400-$2,000 in Cuba, a country where the average monthly salary is about $20.
For Pura, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor as a child, this day brought with it more than the traditional meaning: this was celebration of her life.
Pairing archival studio portraits along with video and documentary stills, this project explores femininity in Cuba, portraying a contemporary image of a society that is steeped in machismo culture.
*This project was funded by the Elliott Erwitt Foundation and exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris Photo and Photo Espana.