Most people’s understanding of ballet dancing is limited, often restricted to the movie Black Swan, which stars Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman. However, the reality is that the ballet dancing world is extremely vast and intricate. Fortunately, Yolanda Correa has a story that inspires young dancers considering ballet. Moreover, her story is interesting because it presents an insight into one of the world’s most isolated places, Cuba.

Born in Holguin, Cuba, Yolanda came from a very low-income family that struggled to make ends meet. Many only have limited knowledge about Cuba because the country lacks an open-border policy. Its isolated stance means most people only know Cuba because of cigars or immigrants. Regardless, life is interesting, if not different, there. It’s something that everyone should learn about because it expands their worldview.

Yolanda Correa was chosen to do gymnastics when she was still a young girl in school. She thrived at it. Eventually, one of her teachers noticed she would be a good fit for ballet dancing and approached her parents with the proposition. She was only nine at the time, but being selected for ballet dancing meant she would be enrolled in an art school in the future, a tempting proposition for a low-income family. Besides, it would provide her with more opportunities since the Cuban government provides free education to students. So naturally, her parents obliged.

Thus, at 15, she left home to continue her studies at the National Ballet School in Havana. Leaving her family behind wasn’t easy, but she knew it was a sacrifice worth making to fulfil her dreams. The move was fruitful because her teachers were masters in the art of ballet and taught her everything about Cuban ballet techniques. She participated in competitions and even won a gold medal. Eventually, she graduated from school at 18 and received the opportunity to become a professional ballet dancer with the Cuban National Ballet. She grasped it with both hands.

Joining the Cuban National Ballet opened the world for Yolanda as she travelled all over the globe. Her talent shone through as she took responsibility in the big ballets, helping her reach the highest rank in the profession – Prima Ballerina. But contentment is the enemy of greatness, and she knew she had more to offer. As a result, she began seeking opportunities elsewhere, hoping to make her name abroad. Moreover, she wanted to keep learning by soaking up knowledge from other schools on ballet techniques.

Hence, she spent considerable periods of her life in various companies, working with the Ballet of Victor Ullate in Madrid, the Norwegian National Ballet, and the Staats Ballet in Berlin. She was also a guest artist for productions in Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Italy, Spain, France, the USA, and Japan, performing classical and modern ballet routines. Her experience also led her to dabble in other art forms like music and singing, opening a world of other opportunities for her.

It is no secret that life as a ballet dancer isn’t easy, and Yolanda had to undergo numerous challenges to reach the apex of her profession. Although ballet training was free, she struggled to get everything needed to practice. Ballet shoes, for instance, were a significant expense. With the ballet world being highly competitive, Yolanda knew that only the best would make it to the top. Hence, she would train as much as possible, putting in extra hours and practicing until exhaustion.

Things were also challenging because nutrition was another consideration. Her family didn’t have the means to get her the proper nutrition. Life would also be difficult when she moved to Havana because it meant not seeing her family for extended periods since they couldn’t afford travel costs. Fortunately, enduring those hardships paid off because Yolanda Correa prospered when others wouldn’t. Today, she’s preparing performances for her season in Berlin. In addition, she’s also bound to feature in the International Ballet Festival in Havana. In fact, she’s become an inspiration for young dancers hoping to make it in the ballet world because if she can, then so can they.

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