Dancing in freedom

The story of two Cuban ballet dancers that risked their lives to escape the tyranny of Fidel Castro, and interestingly enough, the tyranny of Alicia Alonso.

Via Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune:


Octavio Martin will never forget that night – in a faded hotel room in southern Mexico he was sharing with his then-girlfriend, Yaima Franco — when his life irrevocably changed.

“I remember how we was in that room, thinking and talking,” Martin says of the exchange with Franco, now his wife. “In that room, in that moment, we decide. We take the risk of our lives.”

The decision they reached was to defect while on tour with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, where Martin, now a principal with the Sarasota Ballet, was a principal dancer and Franco was a member of the corps.

The previous year, Martin had been denied permission by Alicia Alonso, head of the Cuban company, to accept a contract to dance in Canada.

For almost a full year the couple had deliberated.

“That was a very hard year,” says Franco. “We were trying to decide our future. We were trying to decide our lives.”

When they left Havana for a brief Mexican tour, they didn’t know they would not be returning. They did not say goodbye to their families. Nor did they have more than their per diem expenses and a visa that would expire in just a few days in their pockets.

You can continue reading their story HERE.

2 thoughts on “Dancing in freedom”

  1. Alicia Alonso is a carbon copy of fidel castro. No wonder they get along together so well. She runs her ballet company like the Stalinist state that she lives in. She’s this fat old cow who happens to also be blind and she STILL will not relinquish her hold to someone younger and stronger.

    So many Cuban ballet dancers have sort exile around the world–because of her— that dozens of nationwide and international companies now have talented Cuban ballet dancers.

  2. Just as Fidel Castro sees himself as the greatest Cuban ever and thinks he IS the state, meaning he’s beyond question or reproach, Alonso sees herself the same way in terms of her fiefdom, which is Cuban ballet. Unlike Castro, she had real talent, but her goal has always been very clear: absolute divahood for life. She’s like the evil queen in Snow White, who couldn’t bear that anybody be seen as better or more beautiful than she, and was prepared to screw over anybody who might cast a shadow on her supremacy. The fact she looks like a hideous witch is no accident; that’s exactly what she is.

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