'Cuban Nijinsky' Defects to United States

Classic Arts News   'Cuban Nijinsky' Defects to United States
Rolando Sarabia, a principal dancer with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, defected to the United States in July, the New York Times reports.

He crossed the border into the country from Mexico, where he was teaching ballet in Quer_taro. After a week in Texas, he went to Miami and applied for political asylum.

Sarabia said, however, that his reasons for leaving Cuba are artistic rather than political. He was frustrated that Alicia Alonso, general director of the Ballet Nacional, did not allow him to accept an offer in 2003 to become a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet.

"Artistically, they shut the door on me," he said.

Sarabia was one of the Ballet Nacional's leading dancers, dubbed by critics the "Cuban Nijinsky." He has won numerous international ballet competitions. He was unable, however, to leave the country legally to dance abroad, as his countrymen Carlos Acosta and Jose Manuel Carreê±o have done.

In the near future, Sarabia will perform at the International Ballet Festival of Miami, which is underway; meanwhile, the Boston Ballet has not given up the hope of hiring him as a principal dancer. Sarabia's brother Daniel will make his debut with the Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2005-06.

About 15 members of the Ballet Nacional defected in 2002-03.

The Ballet Nacional could not be reached by the Times for comment.

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