The Cincinnati Post
July 23, 2004

Two Cuban dancers join ballet

By Jerry Stein
Post staff reporter

The Cincinnati Ballet on Thursday introduced two Cuban dancers who defected to the United States from Cuba and who will dance with the company in the upcoming 2004-2005 season.

Adiarys Almeida, 20, and Cervilio Miguel Amador, 20, defected last fall while touring the U.S. after two years with the Cuban company. In the company they will hold the rank of soloists, a station in most companies that is just below the top level of principal dancer.

A third Cuban dancer Luis Valdes is under contract but has not joined the company. He is awaiting visa approval. He is expected to arrive in October

Artistic director Victoria Morgan, said Almeida and Amador "filed for asylum and received it. The price they paid for that was a pretty big price. They can't go back to Cuba for at least five years."

The new dancers will make their bow with the company in the "Don Quixote" pas de deux in the opening concert of the season Oct. 8-9 at the Aronoff Center.

Amador, speaking through an interpreter, said "I think the National Ballet of Cuba is a great company but as a dancer I would like to experiment with other companies so I can experience different styles.

Unfortunately, the National Ballet of Cuba would not allow me to do that."

The National Ballet of Cuba, under the direction of dancer/choreographer Alicia Alonso, holds basically to a classical repertoire.

Such a conservative repertoire, which does not include contemporary dances with social commentary, is the most prudent course to take for an artistic director in Fidel Castro's dictatorship.

But there were no repercussions on Amador's family in Cuba as a consequence of his decision to defect.

"It's very hard for them," he said, "because I come from a very unified family. But they understand my need to learn more. It very hard, though, to be so far away."

Morgan said she had a favorable reaction to Ameida and Amador as she watched them take ballet class.

"But, then, they came down to the studio," said Morgan. "They did the 'Don Quixote' pas de deux, which you get to see the artistry and expression as well as the technical capability. That is what really blew me away."

Almeida also cited a similar need for greater opportunity in her career for her decision to leave her company and Cuba.

"I've always wanted an international career to work with other companies and learn different styles," Almeida said through the interpreter.

She already has set a career goal with the Cincinnati Ballet.

"I want to dance 'Carmen,'" Almeida said.