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Culture

Star Cuban Ballerinas Ready for Their U.S. Debut

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Spencer Parts
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Artistic Director of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Pedro Pablo Peña, right, speaks to Cuban ballerinas Amaya Rodriguez, Masiel Alonso and Mayrel Martinez (left to right) after a press conference Tuesday."

Three of Cuba’s best dancers will make their U.S. debuts in the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami’s performance next Saturday. The dancers came to the U.S. for the chance to expand their repertoire beyond classical ballet, but they start next Saturday with Giselle, a classic romantic ballet they knew well in Cuba.

Mayrel Martinez and Masiel Alonso were soloists in the Cuban National Ballet before they defected last month during a Cuban National Ballet tour in Canada. They arrived in the U.S. on May 9th

Amaya Rodriguez was the principal ballerina in the Cuban National Ballet before she came to the U.S. seven months ago. She will also be making her U.S. debut next Saturday, dancing the principal part in Giselle.

“Giselle is one of the classics that we dance a lot in Cuba,” Martinez said in a press conference held for the dancers' debuts. “It’s foundational.”

Pas de Trois, from the famous Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake,  is also on the program. It will be the first time that these ballerinas will perform it. 

“We’re going to dance Giselle and Pas de Trois which is one we wanted to perform a lot in Cuba but we never had the opportunity,” Martinez said.

The chance to perform a more diverse repertoire was a main motivation for Amaya Rodriguez to leave Cuba. Cultural institutions there do not emphasize contemporary dance, she said.

“In Cuba we always dance the classics,” Rodriguez said. “Only at ballet festivals some of us have the chance to perform modern pieces.”

She won’t necessarily stay in Miami for long. She said there are more opportunities to join companies doing contemporary work in the Northeast.

“We don’t have high expectations about dancing here in Miami but we hope we’ll be able to go North where the big companies are,” Rodriguez said. “We hope we can go and dance other styles there."

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Credit Spencer Parts
Cuban soloists Mayrel Martinez, left, and Masiel Alonso, right, outside the Hispanic Cultural Arts Center, nicknamed the "White House of Ballet."

For Pedro Pablo Peña, Artistic Director of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, the U.S. debut of these three renown Cuban ballerinas is "the best thing happening this year." 

 “I am Cuban. And for me it’s very important to help  the dancers when [they are] coming for the first time to the United States,” said Peña, who founded the Cuban Classic Ballet of Miami ten years ago. 

Peña said he understands the urgency that Cuban dancers have in leaving the island and exploring new opportunities, because their careers are often short.

Tuesday’s press conference was held at the Hispanic Cultural Arts Center, nicknamed the “White House of Ballet.”

For more details on next Saturday's performance visit the Miami-Dade County Auditorium's site here.