Culture

Cuban Professional Ballet Dancers Are Paid $30 Per Month, That’s The Same Amount Doctors Are Paid On The Island

There are a lot of beautiful things that come to mind when you think of Cuba. Cuisine, art, history… rum. But few know that the small island in the Caribean is also home to one of the most celebrated arts in the world. As it turns out, when it comes to dancem the Cuban Ballet Company brings pretty much world-class standard to the art of ballet. 

So next time you want to impress a hottie with your worldly knowledge, maybe throw a few of our obscure facts out and watch them swoon over your smarts.

1. It was founded in 1948.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The official founding date of the Cuban Ballet Company is October 28, 1948. 

2. The official school for the company is the Cuban National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

While the Cuban National Ballet School isn’t technically the Cuban Ballet Company, the two are pretty much intertwined. It means that students from the School can usually take it for granted that once they graduate, they can begin dancing for the Company.

3. The Cuban Ballet Company was founded by a husband and wife duo.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Prima ballerina Alicia Alonso and her husband, Alberto, were the founders for “Ballet Alicia Alonso.” Two years later, the two also established “Alicia Alonso Academy of Ballet.” By 1956, the pair saw their businesses transformed into the Cuban Ballet Company and Cuban National Ballet School, respectively. It’s worth noting that while the two of them founded the Company and School, Alicia Alonso has been the real driving force behind them.

4. Dancers in the company earn $30 a month.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Since it’s a communist regime, Cuban doctors and skilled workers earn the same amount.

5. The National Ballet School provides courses for international students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

This is a must-know for any of you who want to study ballet professionally. The International Dance Program is directed by Alicia Alonso herself! 

6. The Cuban Ballet Company incorporates Latin American culture into its dance techniques.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Apparently, the Cuban dance form draws from its Ibero-America, Caribbean roots.

7. Unlike a lot of other countries, both the Cuban Ballet Company and the National Ballet School are funded by the state.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

And it has been since 1959 when Fidel Castro took control of Cuba.

8. That being said, the Company and School weren’t always so talented.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Despite the fact that the two were regarded as highly artistic and talented cohorts, they struggled for money during their early years. Before 1959, they had to make ends meet without any assistance from the state.

9. Over the years, the Cuban Ballet Company has performed the likes of “Giselle,” “The Swan Lake,” and “Coppélia.”

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

In doing so, the Company both choreographed and performed completely new versions of these classics. Impressive, no?

10. Students for the National Ballet School are handpicked by the Ballet itself.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Talent scouts travel the country searching for new talent, searching for gifted students in over 14 provinces.

11. The School follows strict criteria when it seeks new students.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

Gifted students are usually trained from childhood. In order to be eligible, these kids must have good musicality, the right body proportions, and the ability to follow simple steps.

12. The National Ballet School doesn’t just teach dance.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Once students have been accepted into the School, they typically dance from 7 am to 1:30 pm. Afterward, they then learn the French language, piano, how to read music, folklore, and a whole array of different dances.

13. It takes eight years to graduate from the National Ballet School.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial 

So, if you ever get the chance to see the Cuban Ballet Company, know that they’ve worked very hard to get where they are today!

14. The National Ballet School turns out 40 students per year.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Imagine graduating from your school, knowing there are only 39 other students graduating at the same time as you. Wild.

15. The Cuban Ballet Company has created more than 600 works.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

And it’s also performed in more 60 countries worldwide. Having the Cuban Ballet Company on your resume is seen as a huge plus if you’re a ballet dancer, as it’s pretty much considered to be the top echelon of ballet training and professionalism. 

16. On its 50th anniversary, the Ballet and Alicia Alonso were awarded Lazaro Pena Order.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Given to the Alonso by Castro himself, this is the highest civil decoration that is given in Cuba.

17. While the Ballet is highly regarded in Cuba, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its defections.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Cuban Ballet Company traveled to the US for the first time in 2003. It was during this time that five members defected, as they sought to join American ballet troupes instead.

18. Believe it or not, but Alicia Alonso still directs The Nutcracker at the Valencia Main Theatre.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

She’s literally 98 years old, almost blind, and is still the general director of the Ballet. What. A. Woman. Granted, while there have been calls to have someone else take over, Alonso keeps on with her work. Chances are, she’s never really been held back by the fact that she’s almost blind – Alonso has been working with an eye condition throughout her entire life. 

19. The Cuban Ballet Company performs to cheering crowds.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Everyone knows Cubans know how to tur up. And it’s the same when the dancers perform. This is largely due to the fact that the arts are highly regarded in Cuba. 

20. A documentary was made about the Cuban Ballet Company.

PBS / Mirror Dance

Well, sort of. “Mirror Dance” follows the lives of Cuban-born identical twins, Ramona and Margarita de Saá, as they navigate their roles in the Ballet and international politics. In fact, Ramona is currently the director of the Escuela Nacional de Ballet in Cuba.

21. Did we mention that the Cuban Ballet Company founder Alicia Alonso is a Prima Ballerina Assoluta?

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

For those of you who need to brush up on your ballet terms, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” is a rare title awarded to ballet dancers who have had a prestigious international career, or have given exceptional service to a particular ballet company. While there’s no universal procedure for awarding the title, usually a ballet company, government or head of state is responsible for recognizing the efforts of the ballet dancer in question. And Alicia Alonso? She’s had such a long, storied ballet career, it’s undeniable that she epitomizes the role of a Prima Ballerina Assoluta.

22. The Cuban Ballet Company’s principal venue can be found in Havana.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

The Great Theatre of Havana is where a lot of the Company’s performances can be seen. As much as it’s a huge effort to have to travel to Havana to see the Company in action, we can imagine that their familiarity with the stage must make their performances that much more amazing!

23. The Cuban Ballet Company is known as the “Ballet Nacional de Cuba” in Spanish.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

It makes sense, really, since it’s the top tier ballet company in Cuba.

24. The founder of the Cuban Ballet Company was still dancing into her 70s.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

Alicia Alonso gave her last performance in 1993 when she was 72.

25. Some of the very first dancers at the Cuban National Ballet School include Ernesto Alvarez, Sadaise Arencibia, Elier Bourzac, and Joel Carreno.

Instagram / @balletnacionaldecubaoficial

If you couldn’t guess, these dancers are a very big deal when it comes to ballet.

Which fact surprised you the most? Let us know on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.

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We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

Culture

We Asked What Being Latino Meant To You And Your Responses Were Inspirational AF

What does being Latine mean to you? That’s the question that we asked our Instagram community and their responses really got us thinking.

There is so much to love about being Latino – from our community and our familia, to our cultura and our resilience, our drive to be better and work harder to reach not just our dreams, but the dreams of our pápis and our abuelos too. There is no single definition of what being Latino/Latina/Latine means, and, as expected, where we fall on the Latinidad spectrum varies depending on each one of us. That being said, there is no wrong way to be a Latino or to feel Latinidad, and we hope that these answers give you the courage to accept it, embrace it, and carry it proudly.

But first, the response that left our jaw on the floor:

“I consider myself Indigenous Latinx. I have a trilingual experience growing up with listening and speaking a mixture of Mixtec, Spanish and English #indigenouslatinx” – @jeanettejaguar.

Wow Jeanette! That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing with us. If you ever want to talk to us about your Mixtec cultura and your upbringing let us know, we’re all ears!

Being Latine means embracing the skin you’re in…

“Being a Latino means I’m beautifully brown.” – @pepelokz

“Means brown is beautiful! Was taught at a young age the girls who had brown skin, brown eyes, and brown hair like me were the prettiest. 💕” – @_cynnreneerose

…and not letting anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel.

“It means being unapologetically brown and proud and not letting other oppress our culture and beliefs 👏🏽” – @_ottootto_

“always persevering and continuously learn about ones culture or cultures as to not repeat the same mistakes of the past! I’m a proud Mutt of Mexican born parents! Never have I denied my culture and being what I am I would gladly die fighting then on my knees ✊🏼🇲🇽” – @immanuel_rosa

Some people have trouble feeling accepted

“Ni de aquí, ni de allá” – @marcela.nog19

“Being a Latina is being unsure if it’s okay to claim being Latina. It means fear of being rejected by both cultures that make up my being. It means to laugh at myself as being white wash so that i can pretend it doesn’t hurt when I hear from family and friends around me. It means to constantly be looking for my roots because neither groups want to claim me.” – @miszjean

First of all, whoever made you feel like you weren’t enough is projecting their own beliefs onto you! You said it yourself, both cultures make up your being. You are not either/or, you are BOTH, and that’s something that’s within you, regardless of what other people have to say. Do whatever makes you feel more secure in your identity; if it’s not knowing enough about your cultura that you are self conscious of, all the knowledge in the world is just a Google search away. There’s always going to be people telling you what to do and how you should feel, but that’s their problem, you are supported and loved and you are accepted just the way you are, and if you don’t think so, keep reading to check out Ana Martinez’s answer a little further below.

“Well I feel like I am not living up the standards of being resilient. I am struggling to get my career or studies done, I just feel overwhelmed about the pressures of being an immigrant, disabled, and with chronic issues. I don’t know how my grandma did it coming from a indentured farming family to a businesswoman in her prime time in Mexico- considering that she was not a white woman or a criollo or from a rich family. I am very tired of fighting. I am exhausted. I don’t think I represent anything of Latinx/Latina/Latine, but my grandma DOES represent that. 🇲🇽🌻” – @pandapanda_26

It’s not fair for us to compare our obstacles and challenges to those of anyone else, especially our parents’ and abuelos’. Granted, sometimes it’s hard not to, especially when we consider the lives they led and the sacrifices they were forced to make along the way, but we’re never going to feel like what we do is enough if we’re always comparing ourselves to them. It’s hard not to feel intimidated when things seem to go wrong or when things get tough but mija, you’re doing amazing! Growth is hard and uncomfortable and sometimes we fall but the most important thing is that we pick ourselves up and keep going. That’s exactly what we saw when we read your response: someone who has overcome many challenges and is tired af but is still here, growing and learning and echandole ganas. Think about a time when you overcame something you thought you wouldn’t. See? You can do anything as long as you actually try, your abuelita’s blood is in you, and you cannot fail. *Sending you a big virtual hug*

There is so much of Latinidad to be proud of.

“Being super proud!” – @sarahi_rueda

“Being Latina means being proud of your culture, and being a princess and a warrior.” – @j98oo

“What being Latina means to me: you have the upmost knowledge and first hand experience of struggles( it be family, self, work) getting by just to stay afloat(financially, emotionally, physically) but most importantly the exposure and lessons embedded in us by our adult leaders(parents/ guardians/grandparents) in our life. But on the other side of that coins what makes us Latinas unique is beside all of the above we still are shown how to hard workers, humble, and resilient.” – @tati_rivas90

“It means I love to dance. It means family will always be the most important thing in the world to me. It means I might sound like a gringa to some pero the spanish comes out real quick when im angry, smitten by a cute dog, or in other situations I better not say. It means I belong to a group of people they act like they can’t see. It means I have to explain myself to my white boyfriend over and over again. It means every time I go back home to miami a part of me that’s always empty gets filled. It means vallenatos, mi abuelita, My finca in colombia, the navidades that can never be the same again ❤️” – @saraamayaaa

At the end of the day, remember that where we are born does not determine who we are.

“It means that just because we were born in the 🇺🇸.. being children of a Mexican immigrants… we are Latinos” – @anamartinez67

We hope that you are feeling just as inspired by these responses as we are.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

Things That Matter

The Miami Herald Apologizes For Including Racist, Anti-Semitic Insert In Newspaper

@BillCorben / Twitter

Readers of the Miami Herald and the El Nuevo Herald noticed a racist and anti-Semitic insert in one of the latest editions. The column in the insert compared BLM activists to Nazis while talking down about the Jewish community.

The Miami Herald recently published a racist and anti-Semitic insert.

The offensive piece, written by Cuban exile Roberto Luque Escalona, received harsh and immediate backlash. Escalona expresses his displeasure for the Jewish community and those seeking racial justice by joining BLM with one column.

“What kind of people are these Jews” writes Escalona. He then continues to “teach” Jewish people the history of the Holocaust and claims that BLM supporters are worse than the Nazis during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, because the Nazis simply destroyed things and didn’t steal.

The newspaper has apologized for the insert going so far as to admit that it was not properly vetted and that “internal failures” were at play.

According to an open letter, higher ups at the Miami Herald admit to the insert not being read and vetted by the staff. The obvious overlook led to a 40-page insert of right-wing propaganda to be distributed to the readers of both the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Since the publication, the Miami Herald claims to have ended their relationship with Libre, the insert with the racist and anti-Semitic content.

Those responsible at the Miami Herald admitted to not reading the insert before it was distributed.

“We are deeply sorry that inflammatory, racist and anti-Semitic commentary reached our el Nuevo Herald subscribers through LIBRE, a Spanish-language publication that paid our company to have the product printed and inserted into our print edition as a weekly supplement,” reads part of an open letter to readers. “The fact that no one in leadership, beginning with us, had previously read this advertising insert until this issue was surfaced by a reader is distressing. It is one of a series of internal failures that we are investigating in order to prevent this from ever recurring.”

Readers are outraged that the newspaper would allow such offensive things to be published and distributed.

The right-wing conspiracies pushed by Libre are part of a larger Spanish-language disinformation campaign targeting Cubans in southern Florida. The community has been inundated with disinformation ahead of the 2020 election preying on the fears and ignorance within the staunchly conservative Cuban community.

“It’s difficult to measure the effect exactly, but the polling sort of shows it and in focus groups it shows up, with people deeply questioning the Democrats, and referring to the ‘deep state’ in particular — that there’s a real conspiracy against the president from the inside,” Eduardo Gamarra, a pollster and director of the Latino Public Opinion Forum at Florida International University, told Politico. “There’s a strain in our political culture that’s accustomed to conspiracy theories, a culture that’s accustomed to coup d’etats.”

The disinformation is targeting Cubans because of the growing Latino communities who tend to vote Democratic.

According to Politico, the campaign is Cuban specific. The Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Dominican communities in Florida, which continue to grow, typically vote Democratic. These shifting demographics have left Republicans doing anything it takes to keep a strong hold of the Cuban community, even by means of racism, anti-Semitism, and disinformation.

READ: Politicians Need To Stop Assuming That The Latino Vote Is A Monolith Because It Is Not The Truth

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com