There are so many "good" and real reasons to leave a country like Cuba, which is the size of New York City, whether you're an engineer, a dancer or a machinist. For one thing, you may just want to live somewhere else in the world; for another, you may want to dance with a different company or work in a different environment. Maybe you dream of making lots of money and living in relative luxury compared to the majority of people on the globe. Maybe your family lives here or in Spain, and you miss them. Maybe you are tired of living in an economy constantly struggling against the stranglehold embargo that the country you might immigrate to is callously imposing on your tiny country. Maybe once you've immigrated, you're suddenly so "grateful" for the opportunity to pay $6 a box for four different brands of 35 varieties of cereal made of non-Cuban sugar, air and a tiny amount of wheat or oats, that you're willing to pretend that the government of your adopted nation doesn't go around slaughtering entire populations in countries it seeks to add to its roster of cronies or lackeys to make this choice of "cereal" possible. Maybe you're willing to forget what Cuba did to help such oppressed, exploited and suffering nations as Angola, Mozambique or South Africa, by consciously choosing to send doctors and teachers there instead of, say, manufacturing Barbie dolls or gameboys. Or, maybe, just maybe, like Carlos Acosta, when journalists sniff you out for "admissions" of loathing for Cuba by suggesting that you'd rather be in the USA, you say, "Hell no, I LIKE Cuba and intend to return there some day."
Regarding the debt dancers who leave may or may not feel that they owe, remember, it is not like here. If my child had been a girl instead of a boy here in the USA, she would have had no ballet education because we couldn't have afforded to keep her in pointe shoes AND pay tuition. In Cuba, every child there has a chance at a dance education--not by competing with others of their disadvantaged position for a handful of scholarships--but by virtue of the priority a dance education assumes for EVERY child. Concretely, that translates into working people in Cuba going without certain luxuries that upper middle class people here have two and three of, and throw away and replace on a whim--so that a sizeable portion of the collective wealth they produce can be apportioned to a first class dance education. That's not a debt to Fidel Castro or Alicia Alonso, personally, although there is certainly every reason for that, as well. That's a debt to those who don't disdain to harvest sugar when it's their turn, as I have heard Cuban dancers here complain that they "had" to do. What a small giveback that is for an opportunity that most young people in this country will never have under capitalism.
Art and politics are inseparable social phenomena, and not "stand alone" products of our human evolution. That doesn't mean dance has to be political to be worthwhile, nor that it isn't worthwhile if it happens to be political. We have to use all the same criteria we usually apply--but ideology mustn't overtake any of them--nor, on the other (even) hand, necessarily be excluded.
<small>[ 31 December 2003, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>
"Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation!" Eddie Izzard