One of the greatest ballet dancers who’s ever lived, Fernando Bujones, a Miami Cuban American who was artistic director of the Orlando Ballet, has died at the age of 50.
He lived as he danced, with grace, purity and compassion. He performed for the great Ronald Reagan in 1986. His artistic merit was unequalled and his rare talent and kind spirit inspired many young Cuban-Americans to develop an interest in ballet and make contributions to it. His death from cancer is a devastating loss for those who knew him. And for Cuban-Americans, it is a very sad day. Here is who he was:
Born: : March 9, 1955
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
One of the world’s greatest male ballet dancers, Fernando Bujones was born in Miami, Florida. His early ballet training began at age eight at the school of the famous Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso in Havana. Later, he received a scholarship to George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York. Bujones joined the American Ballet Theatre, one of the world’s preeminent dance companies, in 1972. By the following year he became a soloist, and in 1974 a Principal Dancer?at 18, he was one of the youngest principal dancers in the world. He has appeared as a guest artist with various major ballet companies, including the Boston Ballet, Royal Ballet, the Rome Opera Ballet, the Vienna State Opera Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, and the Paris Opera Ballet. He left American Ballet theater in 1985, and since then has held various guest artist and teaching positions as well as directorships. In 2000, he returned to his home state, and became artistic director of the Southern Ballet Theatre in Orlando, Florida.
The extended version is here. Another nice news profile of him is here. The obituary from The Orlando Sentinel is here. An account of how bravely he faced the cancer is here. An account of his family’s 1962 escape from communism is here.
Ed, my friend who edits Venezuela Today and notified me of this death, was a good friend of Fernando’s and he remembers him this way:
I am at a loss for words. Fernando was pure … and I mean pure. He was married and he was the nicest guy in the world.
He was one of the top three dancers in the world, in a league with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. But unlike those two Russians, he was a Cuban-American.
As a Cuban-American ballet dancer he was little known outside dance circles…and most men will never have heard of him. But he was my friend.
I think it is something to be proud of that he was Cuban-American.
Our friend Alberto Quiroga says it most beautifully:
A Dios, Fernando Bujones. May you dance with the angels.