I’ve been aiming to talk about this for a while and finally this recent post by CubanInUSA was the definitive trigger.
I’ve been listening for a while of many complaints by friends and some posters here that the Ballet Nacional de Cuba “is not what it used to be”, that “the quality of the dancers has diminished” etc etc. And this is my time to totally disagree and object to this statement.
Ballet Nacional de Cuba is not just the fraction of dancers who recently danced in Washington DC and NYC. The dancers that make up for the ranks of the company from the past and present decade is a magnificent one, and one that has very few-(if any)-competitors worldwide. Who are/were the ballerinas of the Cuban Ballet of the 90’s and 2000’s…? Lorena Feijoo, Lorna Feijoo, Halihaydee Carreno, Xiomara Reyes, Lourdes Novoa, Hayna Gutierrez, Catherine Suaznabar, Yolanda Correa, Anissa Curbelo, Barbara Garcia, Sadaise Arencibia, Yanela Pinera and Viengsay Valdes. And who were/are the danseurs…? Jose Manuel Carreno, Carlos Acosta, Lienz Chang, , Rolando Sarabia, Taras Domitro, Joel Carreno, Nelson Madrigal, Osmay Molina, Isanusi Garcia, Romel Frometa, Karel Cruz, Reyneris Reyes, Carlos Quenedit, Ernesto Alvarez, Dani Hernandez and Alejandro Virelles. This incomplete list-(from the top of my head)-makes the grand total of 28 Principal Dancers-(only two of them retired, former real life couple Jose Manuel Carreno and Lourdes Novoa)-...only 7 of them are still dancing in Cuba.
The Cuban Ballet keeps an output of Principals that overflows the input. I don’t think there’s ANY company out there that has that many Principal dancers trained and formed within a national school dancing somewhere else. I don’t know the totality of Russian dancers that became principals-(or were already)-pre or after defections during the 70 years of communism in the Soviet Union, or even if the list could be somehow similar in numbers EVEN if we add the Russians-(and those from the former Soviet republics)- dancing abroad after 1989-(hence not “defectors” any longer per se…like Vishneva, Part or Dvorovenko).
I would be surprised if no dancers defect in this American tour, and if they don’t I would be willing to bet that reinforced measures are being taken for sure. If by personal choice, well…then I would be surprised that any current Principal would be back…
In any case…join me in my celebration of the CURRENT/ REAL Cuban Nacional Ballet, of which those 28 mentioned Principal dancers-(along with many, many others of lesser rank)-are part of.
A curious note. I’m almost sure that Miss V. is the ONLY Cuban dancer, male or finale, past or present besides Alonso that has been for so long in the company without having to defect-(for whatever reasons, political or artistic)- while at the same getting the chance to have international exposure. .