Updated: Wednesday, 11 June 2014 01:27 | By Agence France-Presse

Defecting Cuban dancers to perform with US ballet company

Six Cuban ballet dancers who defected over the weekend while on tour in Puerto Rico will take the stage next week with a Miami-based troupe, the American company said Tuesday. 

Defecting Cuban dancers to perform with US ballet company

Cuban ballerinas perform during the 21nd International Ballet Festival on the 60th Anniversary of the Cuban National Ballet at the Garcia Lorca Theater in Havana on October 28, 2008 - by Adalberto Roque

The Cuban dancers will perform Sunday with the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami less than a week after bolting from the prestigious Cuban National Ballet following a packed performance at Puerto Rico's Center for Performing Arts.

The founder and artistic director of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Pedro Pablo Pena, has in the past been supportive of dancers who choose to leave the Communist island. 

The exact number of defectors could not be officially confirmed by the US State Department in Washington or US immigration and customs officials in San Juan. Early reports said there were eight, but only six dancers have been identified.

Three of the dancers, Monica Gomez, Ignacio Galindez and Raisel Cruz left arrived in Miami from Puerto Rico on Saturday. 

Three others, Jorge Oscar Sanchez, Ariel Soto and Liset Santander, arrived late Monday, according to the Miami Herald newspaper.

Sunday's gala performance honoring Russian ballet is to feature celebrated prima ballerina Lorena Feijoo, who herself defected from Cuba years ago.

Puerto Rico is a mostly Spanish-speaking US Caribbean commonwealth, meaning people can request US asylum there and can easily travel to Miami or elsewhere in the country.

The delegation that traveled to San Juan included more than 50 people, including the Cuban ballet company's legendary director Alicia Alonso, 92. 

The visually-impaired prima ballerina returned to Cuba from New York just after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution. 

The successful company Alonso founded was for decades a centerpiece of the Cold War cultural offerings of Cuba, the only Communist country in the Americas.

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