Dusty, sweltering afternoon in 2003, a strikingly handsome young Cuban walked across the bridge from Reynosa, Mexico, into McAllen, Texas, and asked U.S. border agents for political asylum. The first sign that he was no ordinary defector came when the agents ran a computer check on his identity.
"Solamente Una Vez"
By La Internacional Sonora Manzanero
Rolando Sarabia, 23, a star of Cuba's National Ballet, whose spectacular performances had won him a reputation among dance aficionados as another Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Sarabia was born in Havana, Cuba, on 18 August 1982. His father was a ballet dancer with the Cuban National Ballet. Rolando grew up, among ballet dancers and was performing with the Cuban National Ballet since the age of 5. In 2003, Sarabia left Cuba, after Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso refused to allow him to join the Boston Ballet where his younger brother Daniel Sarabia was dancing as a corps member.
"Por El Amor De Una Mujer" por Julio Iglesias
Sarabia is only the latest of a long line of Latin dancers, especially Cubans, who have joined top U.S. and European troupes, infusing them with a new warmth, sensuality and flair--what in Spanish is called "chispa," or spark. There have been individual Hispanic stars before, like the great mid-century ballerinas Alicia Alonso of Cuba and Lupe Serrano of Chile.
“You don’t dance? You were a dancer once upon a time.
You just stopped and you don’t remember when.”
But now rosters from San Francisco to Houston to Cincinnati are studded with Latin names. Roughly half the principal dancers in the Boston and Miami City ballets are Latins. American Ballet Theatre (A.B.T.) features so many that one of its principals says it "should be called Latin Ballet Theatre." Lynn Garafola, a dance historian at Barnard College, summed up the shift in a Dance Magazine article whose headline proclaimed LATIN IS THE NEW RUSSIAN.
The dancers come from all across the Spanish-speaking world: from Argentina, Venezuela, Spain, and, above all, from Cuba, in a contingent that ranges from the veteran Carlos Acosta of the Royal Ballet down to newcomer Sarabia (who was considering a stack of offers while staying in Pompano Beach, Fla., with a former teacher, also a defector).
"Higher Ground" By the Red Hot Chili Peppers