American Ballet Theatre's Xiomara Reyes and José Manuel Carreño. San Francisco Ballet's Lorena Feijóo and Boston Ballet's Lorna Feijóo. The Royal Ballet's Carlos Acosta. All of these professional ballet dancers hail from Cuba—and now, 21-year-old Nieser Zambrana hopes to follow in their footsteps. Nieser was a member of the National Ballet of Cuba and was touring with the company in Canada last December when he defected to the United States. He made his way to Tampa, FL, where he has family and his aunt by marriage, Ivonne Lemus, also teaches at the Patel Conservatory (where Hannah Bettes' trains). As luck would have it, the school's company, Next Generation Ballet, was looking for someone to cast as Puck in its production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This Saturday, Nieser will dance the lead role as a guest artist with the company. Click here for more information about the show, and click here to see a video of Nieser rehearsing.
Photo of Nieser Zambrana courtesy the Patel Conservatory.