Yes, I liked the article on Jorge very much. He is someone I have admired as a dancer and a teacher with a special gift for developing teenage male dancers. His students adore him. Today's feature article completely captured his playfulness, wit and captivating charm.
I am troubled, however, by his statement that he left Cuba because he was tired of being a "slave." It is understandable that he would express the need for a change of scenery, especially having achieved such mastery at Ballet Nactional de Cuba, and perhaps wanting to try his hand at some other opportunities that weren't available on the island. That would be the case for anyone who has lived in a small country (Cuba is the size of New York City), where you have danced with the same company for your entire career. But, as the article pointed out, who knows what would have happened to Esquivel had the Cuban company not had a policy of touring the countryside, visiting orphanages and consciously recruiting from the most marginalized populations? To the extent that such "outreach" is done in the United States and in some other capitalist nations, it is done either charitably or cynically--for the purpose of getting grant money tied to affirmative action, and occasionally because the AD is genuinely concerned about changing the racial composition of his or her company to one that more reflects the population as a whole.
A slave is not likely to be the recipient of a car, a home, and the best roles in a ballet company, which in turn get him the national recognition of having his picture put on postage stamps. So, I can only guess that Jorge is using hyperbole because he believes that is what is expected of a Cuban emigre. In this, his adopted country, where he is arguably one of the best character dancers of his generation and certainly a teacher of the first rank, he has a motorcycle--not a car, and lives in a houseboat, not a house. A house in Sausalito these days costs way more than any dancer without inherited wealth or substantial successful investments can afford! No companies that I know of are solvent enough to supply housing or transportation to their dancers.
Carlos Acosta has a very different view of his Cuban revolutionary heritage. In a DM interview several years ago, the interviewer presumed that Acosta would want to remain in the United States because of the so-called material advantages. He laughed, and responded by saying that he wanted to return to his country because that's where his roots, his culture and his family are. Punto final!
If it's true that Alicia Alonso is implacably hostile to Esquivel for having left the company and Cuba, it is certainly not the first time that an AD has felt that way. I think it is unfortunate that Esquivel's use of the term "slave" dovetails so conveniently with what the State Department loves to hear exiles say about a country whose revolution they have vowed to destroy.
"Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation!" Eddie Izzard