Miami ballet school a haven for Venezuelan dancing diaspora

Photo: AP

Lusian Hernandez’s eyes watered when she recalled receiving a free pair of pointe shoes after arriving in Miami on a dance scholarship as her native Venezuela descended into an economic crisis.

On a recent night, Hernandez appeared on a South Florida stage in a burgundy gown for the opening scene of “The Nutcracker.” She glided through the scene, hugging the lead, Clara, and waving to guests during the Christmas Eve party scene of the holiday favorite.

Hernandez, 25, is a professional dancer for Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, a Miami school and company that has built a reputation as a haven for the Venezuelan dancing diaspora. More than 20 dancers of Venezuelan origin are playing roles in the holiday production, from tiny mice gobbling cheese to snowflakes waltzing in a winter land.