Cuban television said nothing about it, but fortunately there is the internet for some while most Cubans only know it by name. A better reason then: the most watched news media in Cuba should have talked about the four Cubans who just took high the name of their country in the medal standings of the fourth International Ballet Competition in South Africa.
The event is unique of its kind on the African continent. The Cuban school of ballet, mainly founded by Alicia and Fernando Alonso, remains unique in Latin America. None of the four winners have deserted the island; in fact, the two of them who are students will arrive shortly to continue the school year. Yet television news and newspapers ignored the news transmitted by Prensa Latina News Agency and replicated by CubaDebate and Cubasí websites and some radio stations.
Thanks to the radio, some of the people found out that Cuba won the most medals in the International Ballet Competition held recently in South Africa with two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
Students Rafael Quenedit and Francois Llorente won gold and bronze respectively in the junior category, while the professionals graduated from the National School of Cuba itself, Ramiro Samon and Javier Monier , won gold and silver in the senior category .
The four of them had won prizes in competitions held in Havana in previous years, but any proposal to test their quality far from the national institutes is a challenge, and this undoubtedly was because the competition would have participants from Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, China, USA and South Africa. In addition, the panel of judges came mostly from Europe and Asia, which came with a more distant view on the new fruits of the Caribbean institution.
Following the outcome, the director of the National Ballet School of Cuba, Ramona de Saa, expressed great satisfaction and attributed to the efforts of young people and the hard work of different teachers of the center. She also expressed pleasure that the eight students sent to compete passed the first round and references to the performance of all were excellent.
Professor Yuneysi Rodríguez, head of the Cuban delegation to South Africa, confirmed the director the good performance of the new values of the School. Ismael Albelo, another teacher, also testified by email the growth stage of the youngsters.
However, for the De Saa teacher, best known in her country as Cheri, what remains important is dancing well with technical and at the same time, the style and the right taste. The National Dance Award 2006 said she will continue to emphasize on that and teach it to her students.
The competition, held every two years, ran from February 18 to 22 in Cape Town and since its establishment in 2008 only four Cubans had received awards in various forms and categories: Víctor Estévez, Cynthia Gonzalez, Ramiro Samon, but a gold medal had been won only once: Oscar Valdés in 2010.
Ramiro won a silver medal in the same event in 2012, but after completing his studies in Cuba the National Ballet didn’t choose him because of his physical, somehow disproportionate. The disadvantage of Javier Monier was his insufficient physical stature. Luckily for him and Ramiro, the School maintains since 2009 a program of collaboration with the South African Mzansi Ballet and the leadership of the company showed interest in having these talented graduates and other dancers from the center. In the southern country, they found an opportunity of realization in the career they had chosen, their names appear in productions of Don Quixote, Le Corsaire and other attractions in the classical world.
Ramiro medals forged an indirect homage to one of the great teachers of the Cuban school, Mirta Hermida , who died in the summer of 2012. The distinguished educator always relied on the potential of this young man, his sacrifices at work as the main engine to break down stereotypes and achieve unexpected goals.
The stories of Rafael Quenedit and Francois Llorente are just beginning because before looking for work in any company they should participate in the XX International Conference of Academies for the teaching of Ballet, on April 13-26 in Havana, and the event will include an international competition in which they will assume the responsibility of representing Cuba again. It will not be until several months that they both complete schooling and the student stage of their artistic careers.
To Professor De Saa, four new medals awarded in South Africa constituted a new triumph of the Cuban school of ballet. She and the teachers are still waiting for the release of the news media in the country while they teach classes in the heart of Havana to the new generations of dancers from Cuba.
Photos: Francois Llorente, who won the bronze medal at the 4th South African Competition / Martha Sanchez and Rafael Quenedit the student that won gold medal at the 4th International Ballet Competition in South Africa / Boris Muriedas