News / USA

Cuban Ballet Defectors Appear in Miami, Seek US Careers

Dancers from the famed National Ballet of Cuba, who defected during a weekend performance in Puerto Rico, hold a news conference in Miami, Florida, June 10, 2014.
Dancers from the famed National Ballet of Cuba, who defected during a weekend performance in Puerto Rico, hold a news conference in Miami, Florida, June 10, 2014.
Reuters
Six dancers who defected over the weekend from the famed National Ballet of Cuba appeared in Miami on Tuesday and said they planned to pursue careers in the United States.
 
“The dancers defected because they need personal freedom and opportunity in their career,” said Pedro Pablo PeIna, founder of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, a nonprofit dance organization.
 
“It's a short career. Here they'll at least get paid more than they do in Cuba,” he added.
 
It was the second major defection of Cuban ballet dancers in the United States in a little more than 12 months, though none are principals or soloists.
 
Cuba is one of the world's top producers of ballet talent but dancers are restricted from working abroad and some leave the island frustrated by lack of opportunity, and high paying salaries.
 
At a press conference in Miami on Tuesday, the six dancers, aged between 21 and 24, said they had considered defecting for some time and had discussed the idea with friends and family.
 
“I thought about this for months before the tour,” said Ariel Soto Cantora, 23. “Each of us decided on our own but didn't come with each other,” he added.
 
For some it was a spur of the moment decision. “I was thinking about it but didn't decide until the last minute,” said Monica Gomez BolaInos, 21.
 
The dancers had been performing in Puerto Rico before abandoning the tour on Sunday and flying to Miami.
 
A seventh dancer defected but stayed behind with friends in Puerto Rico.
 
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act Cuban exiles are granted special immigration privileges as well as financial benefits to help them get on their feet.
 
The Cuban national ballet, known for its classical style and for producing world-class dancers, regularly makes international tours. Its members, especially the principals and soloists, enjoy privileged lives but earn modest salaries of $10 to $30 a month plus bonuses for foreign tours.
 
Over the years, many of its dancers have defected and enjoyed successful careers abroad, while others have been allowed to leave Cuba on contract to foreign ballet companies.
 
Cuban ballet legend Alicia Alonso founded the National Ballet of Cuba in 1948 and, at the age of 92, despite being nearly blind, continues as its artistic director.
 
Cuba provides free training to thousands of young dancers around the country from the age of 9, with the elite graduating to the National Ballet.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid