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Prima Ballerina Moves To New Stage After Cuban Classical Ballet Performance

Written by: Cameron Basden
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After 17 years as a principal dancer with the esteemed San Francisco Ballet, dancing every major role and style possible, Lorena Feijoo is retiring from that company to embark on a new journey of dance possibilities and, maybe her biggest role yet, of single parenting her five-year-old daughter, Luciana. It is an unexpected life change for Cuban-born Feijoo, who has been ensconced in the order and security of SFB.

Miami audiences will have the opportunity to see Feijoo perform on Friday and Saturday with the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, as the company showcases select pieces of Ballets Russes Repertoire chosen by the director, Pedro Pablo Peña. The CCBM is a company that Feijoo has performed with numerous times over her 20-plus years in the United States. Feijoo credits Pablo Peña with taking classical ballet to fans who moved from Cuba to Miami.

“It has always been a special audience for me in Miami,” says Feijoo. “A lot of the audience members I have known since I was in school in Cuba.”

For the upcoming performance, Feijoo will do her most classical style as the elegant and mature Taglioni in “Pas De Quatre,” a jewel of a ballet created in 1845 for the four most highly praised ballerinas of their time. It is a ballet that Feijoo last performed in her native country of Cuba, and one that the Cuban-Miami audience is very familiar with. Revisiting Taglioni amid the few whirlwind days in Miami is symbolic of the life that Feijoo is maneuvering as she treads new territory apart from the structured existence at SFB.

In a world where perception is “everything is beautiful at the ballet,” Feijoo, with her Cuban accent and Latin temperament, spoke frankly and realistically about her final year at SFB and life moving forward.

Feijoo was surprised when Helgi Tomasson, artistic director of SFB, made it clear that this was her final year as a dancer there. “His words were, ‘This is your last year, what are your plans?’ It was not my idea and I certainly don’t feel ready to retire from dancing, but you have to respect what people want to do, so I didn’t question it. This was a very difficult year for me and I would have liked to have had a little more preparation. So, ideal it was not, but I feel very fortunate to have done so much.”

By difficult year, Feijoo is referring to a rather messy divorce from a fellow SFB dancer. The mediation is on-going and both parties want what is best for their daughter. In her straightforward way, Feijoo says, “I have had my share of relationships. Never again a dancer and never again a younger person……It just doesn’t work for me. And I met him from guesting in Miami through Pedro Pablo!”

Asked by Tomasson to coach and teach SFB during her final year already saw Feijoo straddling the fence between dancing, teaching and running rehearsals. “I really enjoyed passing on what I had learned. The company was lacking female coaches so I also stepped into that role. I was dancing and teaching at the same time. It was hard.”

Speaking about her future, Feijoo says, “I’ve never had the time to freelance or explore other possibilities. Now, I can actually be my own boss, [do] things that when you’re attached to a daily schedule, you just can’t do.”

Feijoo also has had few injuries in her career. “I don’t know what that is, to be in pain. Maybe my genes, my mental strength, I don’t know. Dancing has always been what I love and what I want to do.”

She is already well booked, much of her time being spent in rehearsals and performances with the San Francisco Opera, including a world premiere production of “Girls of the Golden West,” with music by John Adams and libretto by Peter Sellers.

Maybe the upcoming visit to Miami is finalizing a full circle that will catapult Feijoo into the next cycle of her life.

The Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami and Lorena Feijoo perform Friday at 8:00 p.m.; The Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; tickets $20-$35; And on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.; Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami; tickets $32-$62; 


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