Walt’s spiritual retreat in El Salvador, Central America, was a paradise. It was located directly on the beach front with a swimming pool, a small gym, meditation rooms, a pyramid, and cages with many exotic animals. Walt escorted groups of yoga students there; about twelve to fifteen joined him several times a year. I was surprised to see that this time there were only four of us: Walt, Magana, “Big John” and me. Big John had been a disciple at the yoga center for years. He was a man with the body of a giant and the gentleness of a lamb.
“Do you boys, I mean, do you men want to continue with your regular yoga practice? Or do you want to reach new levels of awareness?”
Big John and I exchanged looks of suspense.
“We want to reach new levels, Gurudev.”
Big … Read More »
My Final Season At The San Francisco Ballet
Michael wanted a black dancer. Since he felt that my skin did not read black enough under the bright lights, he hired Paul Russell, formerly with Dance Theater of Harlem, not ever realizing that Paul would help bring his position as director of San Francisco Ballet to an end.
After a couple of seasons, Michael was dissatisfied with Paul’s performance. He prolonged his contract one last year to give him a chance to plan for his future. Paul, who assumed the position of union representative (we were all protected by AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists)), worked his way up to the administrative level of the union by allegedly performing sexual favors for the right people, and additionally, began a series of intrigues against Michael…
Breaking My Vows
Have you ever had a mystical experience?”
I was surprised at this unexpected question.
“I have them all the time, why do you ask?”
“About a half an hour ago I watched you from a distance as you were swinging your hips to the drums of Sheila E and I thought to myself, I’m gonna dance with you tonight, and now, out of all these thousands of women you asked me to dance.”
Alice had black, curly hair, round features, big black eyes with a look of mischief and killer curves – a refreshing sight after being surrounded by skinny ballerinas every day. There were several big-name Latin bands opening for the great performers Celia Cruz and Tito Puente at the Cow Palace in South San Francisco. The salsa concert of the year was attended by five thousand salseros…
The Magic Of Partnering
My first examples of good partnering were my father, and my uncle, Fernan Caballero. They were elegant men who were genuinely interested in making their women look their best. That is the basis of good partnering. It requires a true gentleman, his willingness to stand behind, to be in second place, by which only his masculinity shines through.
After having learned basic partnering at the various ballet schools, it was really an accident that triggered the circumstances to provide me with the best teacher anyone could hope for.
Linda Meyer was the reigning ballerina at San Francisco Ballet during the early eighties. A perfect technician, however, in street attire, I never saw a less glamorous looking ballerina. But put her in a tutu and a tiara and she shone a like a queen. She could execute any pirouette … Read More »
Discovering Belly Dance
I often heard the sound of exotic drums and jingling of finger cymbals coming from upstairs at the yoga center. It was a challenge to concentrate on inner peace while the stimulating sounds of a belly dance class were going on at the same time.
After yoga class, I would rush upstairs to satisfy my curiosity. Once, instead of taking the yoga class with Walt’s replacement teacher, I decided to partake in the belly dance class with his wife, Magana Baptiste.
I found a natural affinity toward the movements right away. It reminded me of my early days at Ballet Folclorico, in Colombia. Soon, I was taking belly dance classes regularly. After three months, Magana asked me to participate in her school recital.
“But Magana, what should I do? I am always told what and how to dance at SFB.” … Read More »
Einführungskurs für erwachsene Ballett-Einsteiger ohne Vorkenntnisse.
Horacio tanzt seit frühester Kindheit. Von der American Ballet Theatre School kam er zum San Francisco Ballet, wo er acht Jahre als Solist in über 40 klassischen und modernen Balletten tanzte.
Während seiner Zeit beim San Francisco Ballett wurde er von vielen hervorragenden Ballettmeistern ausgebildet (Anatol Vilzak, Michael Smuin, David Howard, Erik Bruhn, Valentina Pereweslawek, Terry Westmoreland u.a.). Dabei entwickelte er eine Methode, bei der auch wenig oder unerfahrene erwachsene Tänzer verletzungsfrei die Grazie und Harmonie des klassischen Balletts geniessen können. Fortgeschrittene Tänzer wissen seine exzellenten Korrekturen und Erklärungen zu schätzen.
There were about 25 men in the dance room with an unspoken, yet clear sense of territory. I walked in feeling rather shy, unsure of where to stand. In the world of ballet, hierarchy plays an important role with dancers fiercely defending their turf. I stood in the corner.
This was such a different game than the one I knew. When it came time to execute the big acrobatic jumps and turns, the men, who showed off their tricks with macho-like attitudes, were relieved to see that I had a long way to go. I wasn’t a threat.
Although I was still a member of the school’s scholarship program, I was permitted to partake in the professional training. The San Francisco Ballet facilities were nothing like the sophisticated state-of-the-art ABT studio in New York. Funky, somewhat rundown, and more relaxed…
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It was about 2 AM when I finally fell asleep after the long trip.
Shortly after, I was awakened suddenly by my roommate, Phillip, from Alabama. Phillip was seated on the edge of his bed screaming at the top of his lungs. I stood up quickly and turned the lights on. Dancers ran in from the other rooms wondering what was going on.
Phillip continued screaming, and made strange, jerky movements with his head. We all thought he had gone mad until suddenly, an inch-long insect, with fluttering wings, crawled out of Phillip’s ear! It had been buzzing inside his head.
That was my first night in the United States. Phillip wasn’t mad. As a matter of fact, he was a really nice guy with a cynical sense of humor and always ready for a fun time.
The Jacob’s Pillow Summer Dance … Read More »
Back in Cartagena, I came upon a surprising scenario. Many of the boys that had attacked and tortured me years earlier were now wearing bell bottoms themselves! I found a different climate, a new scene, one that did not attack me for my image but instead accepted and embraced me – with much admiration.
There was another aspect of Cartagena that now made it attractive. Pot. Everyone I knew was smoking marijuana. Mother observed us reluctantly until her suspicions were confirmed. She walked in our room and found Kiko and me smoking a joint. Not knowing quite how to react, she scowled and left.
We craved the weed, which had been impossible to get in Poland. At school everyone was smoking ‘grass’ and getting high. We even met around the corner, at 6:45 AM, and smoked joints before our first … Read More »
During my early childhood I was always jealous of my brother Kiko. More than once Ricardo, Nitzy and I commented that mother loved Kiko more than the rest of us. But that misconception was due to the fact that mother gave him more attention than the rest of us. In fact, he needed it. Kiko was a special case, a most unusual character.
Ever since he was a small child Kiko had an inclination for the macabre. During Christmas we were in the habit of writing a letter to Santa Claus with a list of presents that we hoped to receive. I usually wanted a train or a bicycle. Kiko’s list however, was quite different. It included a knife, scissors, matches, guns, rifles, and all those sort of things. Kiko’s behavior was notorious and he was famous in the … Read More »