Many of us take our ballet training for granted. But for dancers living in Puerto Rico, which is still reeling from the devastating affects of last month's Hurricane Maria, pursuing a ballet career or simply taking class must now feel insurmountable. What do you do when Mother Nature not only destroys your dance studio, but your home and the majority of the city you live in? Priorities must shift to those of basic survival.
Now, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School is trying to help six Puerto Rican dancers resume their training. The students, whose studio in San Juan was badly damaged, had recently attended SCBS's summer intensive. School directors Ariel Serrano and Wilmian Hernandez have started a fundraising effort called "Sarasota And Puerto Rico Dance Together" to temporarily relocate the dancers. While they can easily offer them scholarships, Serrano and Hernandez must raise an additional $36,000 to provide housing, food and living expenses for one year. (SCBS has a dormitory for female students, but not for male students.)
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune's Carrie Seidman reports the harrowing living and financial conditions the young dancers are experiencing, as well as the anxiety Serrano feels as they desperately text him for updates on the fund-raising effort. One student, Danny Rivera, tells Seidman: "With this disaster, no one in Puerto Rico is thinking anything about the arts. The possibility to continue our training in ballet is very, very low."
Gabriel Roman, a student from Puerto Rico whose studio was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria. Photo by Soho Images, Courtesy SCBS.
Luckily, the dance community isn't one for resting on its laurels, as evidenced by recent efforts to help Hurricane Harvey victims. For more information on "Sarasota And Puerto Rico Dance Together" and to donate, click here. SCBS isn't the only American school raising money for Maria victims. Read on for more ways to help Puerto Rican dance studios in dire need of aid.