PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL:  In just a few short weeks fifteen Ballet Palm Beach dancers (seven company members and eight student dancers between the ages of 14 and 18) will pack their toe shoes, tutus and talent into carryon bags and set out for foreign shores. Through the international outreach program, Ballet Ambassadors, the dancers — all company members and students at Ballet Palm Beach — will spend seven days (July 10-17) traveling throughout Cuba. First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach is sponsoring the dancers, who will not only entertain but will do volunteer work with children living in remote villages. Pastor Joel Dopico, President of the Cuban Council of Churches, arranged for Ballet Ambassadors to perform in theatres, churches and orphanages throughout the country. As part of the program, the dancers hold bake sales and babysit throughout the year to raise money.  They will be donating gently used ballet and pointe shoes as well as costumes to some of the host churches.   The dancers will be distributing 40 lbs. of tights, donated by dancewear manufacturer Eurotard, to children interested in dance.

Accompanied by Ballet Palm Beach’s principal dancer, Rogelio Corrales, a native of Cuba, the troupe will give its first performance in Pinar del Rio, a small farming community which also happens to be Corrales’ hometown. In a recent interview, Corrales said, “I came to America when I was 18, seeking freedom and a better life. It is hard to return and see the struggles people must endure to live. Although I have been here many years, I still feel guilty at the ease with which I can buy everyday items… like vitamins and Band-Aids. These products are luxuries and are very hard to come by in Cuba. ”

Under the direction of Artistic Director Colleen Smith, Ballet Palm Beach students have been busy rehearsing a repertoire of existing and original works, including Three Tangos and Daily Graces. They practice six days a week at the The Esther Center in Palm Beach Gardens. When asked why the arts are so important, Smith said, “Art is a way to touch and connect with people.  The people we perform for are very poor – they have nothing.  The students and company members are able to connect with these people through their art form and volunteer work.”  In past years, Ballet Palm Beach dancers have brought their magic to Hungary, Cuba, Russia, Croatia, France and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

 Ballet Palm Beach is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to preserving the art of ballet, impacting young lives through the discipline of dance, and enriching the community through the beauty of ballet. The Ballet Ambassadors program fulfills Ballet Palm Beach’s mission of impacting young lives through the discipline of dance and enriching the community through the beauty of ballet on an international level.  To donate to Ballet Ambassadors, a nonprofit organization, please contact Ballet Palm Beach at 561 630-8235.