Friday, March 17th, 2017

The Queen of Thursdays

This fascinating documentary with its intriguing title is the bitter-sweet story of Rosario “Charin” Suárez a Cuban ballerina hailed by many as the best of her generation.  Her tale starts when Fidel Castro first came to power in 1959 and he invited Alicia Alonso the country’s leading prima ballerina and her husband Fernando to establish the Cuban National Ballet. Charin was a very young girl then and was invited to join the corps-de-ballet, and very slowly worked her way up the company ladder to become a soloist.

The trouble was that Alonso was quite a prima donna who actually had her manager husband dismissed from the Company so that she could retain total control, which meant keeping all the best roles for herself even though she was going blind and getting way past her prime.  Envious of any competition she wouldn’t allow the talented Charin to perform at the weekend, and restricted her to Thursdays which soon became the most popular night of the week at the ballet earning Charin her unofficial title.

Charin eventually left the National Company to set up her own troupe, but as would be repeated throughout her career, whilst she excelled at dancing, her attempts to breakout on her own would always somehow end with disappointment.  This time when her new Company failed the aging Alonso invited her back into the National fold and promoted her to Principal dancer. 

However as her young daughter started growing up Charin was getting concerned at both the political unrest in Cuba and the need to give Paula a better life, and for the first time she seriously thought about leaving the country for good.  Whilst she was performing in Madrid, Charin applied for political asylum and when that was refused, she gained a Special Visa to enter the US and headed straight for Miami, the Cuban capital in exile.

By now Charin was in her 40’s and although welcomed enthusiatically by all the Cuban immigrants who had settled there, the new Company that she started  soon floundered and she had no option than to shut up shop.  The American Ballet Theater wanted to employ her but had no vacancies at her level, and her application to be the artistic director of N.Y’s Hispanico Ballet was not successful.

In the documentary shot over a number of years by Orlando Rojas Charin frankly discusses how like so many others she has this  feeling that creatively she may have had a better life after all if she had stayed in her home country. She has this remarkable talent and energy that radiated so much on the stage that she lit up like the true star that she was, and it seems slightly sad now that in her 60’s that she feels less than fulfilled teaching part time in a local dance academy.

It is a remarkable story about being torn between two cultures and being at the whim of two dictators (Alonso being the second) that needed to be told and deserves to reach the widest audience possible.

Posted by queerguru  at  17:11


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