By Suzy Kridner
His life could be a book or a movie.
He defected from Cuba at age 19 while on tour in the U.S., made his way from Daytona Beach to Miami by taxi, then found someone from a Spanish TV station to help him. He spoke no English.
When Cervilio Amador, now 29, dances here in "The Nutcracker" Dec. 8 and 9, he'll have memories of that night in October 2003 when "terrified," he left his hotel room in the middle of the night with fellow dancer and then girlfriend Gema Diaz. They were to perform that night at Peabody Auditorium with the National Ballet of Cuba.
"I was terrified. I didn't know what to expect with anything," Mr. Amador said last week in a telephone interview from Cincinnati, where he is a principal dancer.
"I had many questions but no answers. We went to Gema's family in Miami to help us," he said.
They had a little money and 16 pairs of ballet shoes, he said.
Though security was tight and they didn't have their passports, they were able to leave the hotel in Daytona Beach and reach Calle Ocho in Miami.
"Our defection wasn't a political statement but an artistic one," he said.
"We wanted to make clear we didn't defect for any political reason. We wanted to dance with other companies and travel around the world. In Cuba there was only one company."
He said they saw a Cuban announcer they recognized on Spanish TV so they went to the station in Miami and "waited for him to come out of the station."
"We told him we wanted to defect but made it clear that it wasn't for political reasons," Mr. Amador said.
"The man said they would help us if we gave them an interview," he said. So they did and the station paid for their lawyer fees and other expenses.
Mr. Amador said his parents and two sisters are still living in Cuba.
"I did have fear about my family," he said.
"I didn't know what may happen to them but they weren't political," he said and since it wasn't a political defection, they didn't have problems from the Cuban government.
"My parents have visited me in the U.S. and I'm doing paperwork to bring them here," said Mr. Amador, who is now an U.S. citizen.
His father is a math teacher and his mother teaches English and Spanish.
"I also have two older sisters who are professional musicians in Cuba," he said.
An article appeared in the New York Times shortly after the defection. He said Victoria Morgan, the director and choreographer of the Cincinnati Ballet, offered auditions to him and several others who defected shortly afterwards.
"I told them I had no money to travel to Cincinnati and for a hotel but they paid for us," he said.
All four were hired.
Shortly after their defection in 2003, Mr. Amador and Ms. Diaz returned to the stage to dance the principal roles in "The Nutcracker."
More than 80 dancers were onstage at the North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theater, under the direction of Russian Ballet Master Vladimir Issaev, in "The Nutcracker," presented by the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida.
It was what they had dreamed of, dancing with other companies and as guest artists.
Mr. Amador recently spent a weekend performing a whimsical version of "The Nutcracker" in Anchorage.
In that production, Mr. Amador stood out as the Cavalier, according to a review in the Anchorage Daily News. And last weekend he performed in New Orleans, in addition to many performances of "The Nutcracker" at the Cincinnati Ballet this month.
Born in CamagŁey, Cuba, and raised in Havana, Mr. Amador received his training at The Vocational Ballet School in CamagŁey, Cuba, and The National Ballet School in Havana. In 2001, at the age of 18, he joined The National Ballet of Cuba as a corps de ballet dancer and was promoted a year later to corifeo (demi- soloist).
He said at the age of 23 he was promoted to Principal Dancer.
Mr. Amador has been invited to perform in many countries around the world.
This weekend, he'll be back in Daytona Beach as guest dancer in the Civic Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker." Performing with him will be Jacqueline Damico of the Cincinnati Ballet and his current girlfriend.
Performances are at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Peabody Auditorium, followed by a Sugarplum Tea both days.
Tickets are available at Peabody box office and www.Ticketmaster.com.