Friday, April 22, 2011

Cuban dancer takes leap and lands in Tampa

Cuban dancer takes leap and lands in Tampa
6:11 PM, Apr 21, 2011
Kathryn Bursch

Tampa, Florida - In ballet, it's all about the feet and Nieser Zambrana
has them.

"He has outstanding feet," says Peter Stark, the artistic director for
Next Generation Ballet. "His form is exquisite."

Until recently, Zambrana was a member of the prestigious National Ballet
of Cuba. It's considered one of the best companies in the world.

Still, Zambrana yearned for more artistic freedom and after a December
performance in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, he took a taxi to the U.S. border.

Zambrana does not speak English, but through his aunt he told 10 News
that he was on edge all day.

"Yeah, he was nervous," says Ivonne Lemus. But once again his feet got
him through; he jumped out of the cab and his toes touched down in the
United States.

"The moment he put the step over the yellow line in the United States,
no one can turn him back," says Lemus.

Besides Lemus, Zambrana has other relatives in Tampa and faster than a
pirouette, he had a job. At just the right time, Tampa's newest ballet
company needed a lead for its May performance of a Midsummer Night's Dream.

"We were thinking about hiring local," says Stark. "And in walks this
exquisite dancer into the Patel Conservatory and we couldn't have asked
for better luck."

Zambrana has been training and rehearsing with the Next Generation
Ballet, made up of pre-professional dancers, so while he's growing as an
artist, he's also helping young dancers as well.

"He's definitely a dancer to aspire to," says 15-year-old Drew Nelson.
"Because he works so hard and he's always so professional during

Zambrana plans to audition for major dance companies across the nation,
but while he's in Tampa he's learning English and he invites everyone to
"Come watch me dance."

The Patel Conservatory's Next Generation Ballet performs "A Midsummer
Night's Dream" on May 14th at the Straz Center.

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