MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Seven dancers who defected from Cuba over the weekend now have a home at the Cuban Classical Ballet in Miami.

After a year of planning, the seven ballet dancers made it to the United States after fleeing a performance in Puerto Rico.

The dancers spoke Tuesday in Miami.

Yaima Mendez Rivero, one of the dancers, said that her uncle met up with her while her company, the National Ballet of Cuba from Cuba, was performing in Puerto Rico. They had planned it a year in advance.

Rivero said that her dreams can now be realized, that here the dream of being a dancer and being free.

Rivero was the first to arrive. She contacted the remaining six performers in Puerto Rico to let them know it was OK to come, that the coast was clear. She said they are all like family but here in Miami she stayed with her real family. She’s living with her cousin and other family members.

Rivero’s cousin, Lidiace Rivero, is thrilled to have her home with her.

Jorge Oscar Sanchez, another dancer who defected from Cuba, was reunited with his father and his sister. He expressed joy at being able to see his family again, said he saw his father in Puerto Rico and gave him a hug saying, in Spanish, it’s over, it’s over.

Sanchez will spend time getting to know his dad who’s been in Miami for 20 years as well as his younger sister.

This was all made possible by Pedro Pablo Pena, the man who started the Cuban Classical Ballet in Miami so that ballet dancers wanting to defect would have a place to go.

Pena said those who do not have family in Miami will be put up in a dance studio which is a former house. Pena himself, once a dancer from Cuba, created the ballet because 30 years ago when he left Cuba but didn’t have a place to go.



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