Fernando Bujones, RIP

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:

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Fernando Bujones
ballet dancer
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.

8 thoughts on “Fernando Bujones, RIP”

  1. These news have saddened me deeply…. As a kid, I saw Fernando many times come as “bailarin invitado” to dance with Ana Maria Castanon and Ballets de San Juan. I loved him in such classics as Coppelia and Giselle. I was a big fan, and coming from a Cuban family we respected him and admired him as a dancer. He will most certainly be missed in the Ballet World.

  2. My condolences.
    I met him once, and he was a very nice guy. As a side note, he was also in the movie The Turning Point, along with several other ABT stars

  3. Thanks Mora… it really saddens each time one of our people be they Cuban like Celia Cruz or Cuban-American like Fernando Bujones passes on without ever seeing Cuba emancipated from the hellish grips fidel.

  4. Songqua: Yes, indeed. But Fernando will watch every detail of the liberation of Cuba from Heaven. He – along with all of castro’s and che’s victims – will be there together with the living when it happens.

  5. Thanks Mora… You know… the more I look at him, the more I’m convinced that I knew some of his relatives… Did he have two son’s who almost looked like twins? Or nephews who looked a lot like him? I knew a Fernando growing up in the former boon docks of la Saguesera SW 140th and Coral Way (near Mother of Christ Catholic Church), and I could be wrong, but I swear he looks like this Fernando Bujones… of course the Fernando I’m thinking about should be roughly 20 something today. Any clues?

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