Six dancers from the National Ballet of Cuba recently arrived in Miami after defecting while their company was on tour in Puerto Rico. The dancers have been taken under the wing of Pedro Pablo Peña, the director of Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. Peña is Cuban and has long supported defecting ballet dancers by featuring them in his company and helping them find work in the United States.
Defection from the National Ballet of Cuba is nothing new. Dancers often leave the company when it goes on tour—the first defections took place as early as 1966, when the company performed in Europe. Though earlier defections were often motivated by political beliefs, Peña and the Cuban dancers claim that they are seeking artistic freedom and more encouraging job prospects. One of the dancers, Raisel Cruz, said that the position of young dancers in the company is “precarious and frustrating.” Peña said that “all the young people do is dance. They are not too involved in politics. They want to develop their careers.”
Dancers Ariel Soto Cantora, Lisset Santander Martinez and Jorge Oscar Sanchez
(Photo by Hector Gabino/Miami Herald)