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San Francisco Ballet principal Lorena Feijoo left Cuba at age 20. Now her mother, once a member of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba herself, is visiting from Havanna. I had the pleasure of chatting with them for the Chronicle:

” “I insisted I wanted to be a ballerina,” Lorena Feijoo remembers during a rehearsal break at San Francisco Ballet. She is clasping the hand of the woman next to her. Same tawny skin, same commanding brown eyes, same proud carriage: Lorena Feijoo and Lupe Calzadilla look like Russian nesting dolls, one a smaller copy of the other. Feijoo wears a red leotard and a smudge of lipstick where her mother has just kissed her cheek; mama has borrowed her daughter’s red shawl and draped it across her shoulders with theatrical elan. “How old was I when I said that, madre?”

“Dos a?os!” Calzadilla shouts, with her hand in the air.

“Two years old,” Feijoo says. “My God. I didn’t even know this.”

No one who has witnessed Feijoo’s fiery classicism as a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet would be surprised to learn her iron will revealed itself in toddlerhood. But when Lorena and Lupe are in the same room, stories of a life immersed in dancing keep pouring forth. Cuban ballet had entered a golden era when Calzadilla, a member of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, gave birth to Feijoo. The teachers were legendary; the atmosphere familial. Calzadilla would leave her baby with the costume ladies during performances. “She’d be standing onstage in ‘Swan Lake’ and hear my cries,” Feijoo says. “

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