Mayara Pineiro

Photo credit: Pat Loeb

Ballerina Shows How Far She's Come To Special Audience

Pat Loeb
April 06, 2018 - 10:26 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Mayara Pineiro was just 17 when she defected from Cuba to the U.S., nearly ten years ago.

This week, she was able to show off how far she's come to a very special audience -- her mother, Natividad.

“This is the first time she saw me perform professionally,” said Mayara. “In Cuba, I was in school but this time it's in a professional company.”

Natividad says she was so overwhelmed to see her daughter on stage, she wept.

“She says she saw me like a queen because she cannot believe I've become a ballerina in a big company," Mayara said, translating Natividad’s Spanish.

The journey from Cuba to this week’s joyful reunion and revelation begins in Canada in 2008, where Mayara was on a school trip.

“It was the last day of the trip, when we went to Niagara Falls,” she recalled. “There were two flags, a Canadian and a U.S. They explained to us, that is the U.S.”

Mayara says she had always dreamed of living in the U.S. She had an uncle in Florida.

She didn’t think about it. She just decided to walk across the bridge and ask for asylum.

"I just wanted to do it, so I didn't think so much," she said. "I think if I do think about it, I probably wouldn’t do it.”

She was placed in detention and, because she was a minor, U.S. authorities contacted her parents. Her mother decided to give the okay to let her get asylum.

“She was very sad at the moment,” Mayara translated, “but she knew that when I came here, I had a future in front of me so she was very happy also.”

Mayara has been back to Cuba but had not seen her mother in four years, when Natividad was able to make arrangements for a two week visit to Philadelphia.

As soon as she landed, Mayara whisked her off for a shopping spree.

“Since this is her first time seeing me perform in theater, as a professional, I wanted to buy her a dress for her to be very beautiful, especially for the opening night, and she was very beautiful," Mayara said.

Natividad says Mayara had changed physically-- "I have a dancer's body now," Mayara translates-- but inside she was still her "sweet little girl," and everyone she meets tells her that Mayara is such a good person.

Mayara danced with companies in Bucharest and Italy and with the Milwaukee Ballet before joining the Pennsylvania Ballet in 2014. She was promoted to soloist in 2015 and principal dancer in 2016, according to the Company's website. 

Her mother watched her dance in the Thursday and Friday night’s performance of the Ballet’s “Grace and Grandeur.”

"I've been growing so much in this company so I'm very happy that she can see that now, and that she's here with me," Mayara said.

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