“I was really hyperactive as a child. The educational psychologists recommended that I do sports to release the surplus of energy. But judo, karate, boxing didn’t work. One day, we walked by the provincial school of danse by accident. I heard piano and I stopped. I looked through a small window and I saw small children in a ballet class. I said: “I want this!” And my mother said: “It’s too calm for you! You’re going to kill everyone!” But I still wanted to try. And on the first day I already knew I belonged here, that it was everything I wanted in life.
Dance isn’t something you choose. It’s a need to express yourself differently, it’s your language. Most of the time, I’m more eloquent dancing than speaking. I studied at the national art school of Cuba, and at 19 years old I got my diploma in modern dance. But the cuban government and communism always make decisions for you. I had 32 contracts in Europe and the government took 70% of my salary. At the time, we even used to travel with a representative of the government who kept our passports so that we couldn’t register as refugees.
In 2010, the Montreal City Council invited me for the jazz festival. One day I asked for my passport to send money back to Cuba. And then, I registered as a refugee. Canada welcomed me very well. They give a lot of support to immigrants. I got my permanent stay 2 years later, and my citizenship 1 year after that. I’m proud to be Canadian, it will always be my second country.
We Cubans, we’re emotionally attached to one another. That’s because of communism. Because we suffered a lack of so many things, there’s a relationship of cooperation and help that develops. In Cuba we don’t produce anything, we’re the ones who really support the country. You can’t find a Cuban who doesn’t send money to his family and who doesn’t return to his roots. But I love my country. Yes, it was difficult, but we’re very good at education. And I feel indebted to my country.”
(Quai du Général Guisan | translated from French)