Magazine article Out

Dance of Life

Magazine article Out

Dance of Life

Article excerpt

THE STORY OF CUBAN EXILE PEDRO RUIZ PERSONIFIES DUENDE.

In Spanish it means a passion and skill that have always lived inside you, but ever since Pedro Ruiz was a boy growing up in Santa Clara, Cuba, duende, to him, has meant ballet. Today, as a principal dancer in New York City's Ballet Hispánico and the subject of an episode of public television's In the Life, Ruiz continues to fulfill a dream that began at age 8 in a school production of Peter and the Wolf.

Growing up in macho Cuba, Ruiz had to be careful about his sexuality - even at dance school. "If they saw you acting a little bit feminine, you're out," he recalls. Rather than oppress him, he allowed this masculine veneer to influence his dance. "You needed to portray yourself a certain way, so you were always conscious of how you moved."

Ruiz's parents convinced him to tell the Cuban draft board he was gay to escape military conscription - an act of courage in a country where homosexuality was often a ticket to prison. …

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