Dancers from around the world perform at Cuba’s International Ballet Festival


Cuba has a world-famous classical ballet company but has found it hard to keep many of its top dancers and rising stars. Some have left to find fame and fortune abroad and to broaden their repertoires. This week Havana is hosting its 24th biannual International Ballet Festival, that includes dancers from around the world. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reported this story from Havana.

As a child, Rodrigo Almarales trained at Havana’s prestigious National Ballet School until his mother moved the family abroad. Today, he is a soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet in the United States. He has now returned to dance in Cuba for the first time in 13 years.

“Coming back and seeing my family again, it was an indescribable feeling,” said Almarales. “It’s been such a long time. I broke into tears because I felt so much emotion.”

Cuba’s National Ballet is famous for its technically brilliant interpretations of all the classical ballets, such as Swan Lake. Its dancers are in great demand by companies around the world.

“I just decided to move on and find different things and different styles, and different choreographers and choreographies, so that’s why I left,” said Javier Torres of the Northern Ballet in England.

Now Torres is giving Cuban audiences the opportunity to see different styles and choreography for themselves.

“This festival is also about inspiring new generations of dancers and several of the Cubans who have made successful careers abroad have been invited back to give master classes here,” he said.

Xiomara Reyes is now one of the stars of the American Ballet Theater in New York. She hopes to give back some of what she has learned abroad.

“Of course when you leave a place, even if that was a base, you get a lot of other influences,” said Reyes. “I’m sure I’m not any more what we could call ‘a pure Cuban’ school, but I think it’s a wonderful thing just to be able to share what I have learnt through the years.”