SAN ANTONIO — Yosvani Cortellan’s passion for dance began more than 20 years ago while watching Swan Lake—in Cuba.
“I told my mom: 'I want to be a dancer,'” he said. “That’s when this magical story happened.”
The international ballet star has performed around the world in places like Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. Today, he's living the American dream as a choreographer right here in San Antonio.
“When you are a dancer, you are on stage performing for the audience,” he said. “But when you are a choreographer, you are telling the audience, through the dancer, what you are feeling. It is something very nice.”
This weekend, Yosvani’s adaptation of "Carmen" premieres at the Tobin Center. He brings an electric style – and a whole lot of Cuban sass - to center stage.
“Many people have asked me, 'What do you see with this version different than the others?'” he said. “It’s that passion that we have in Cuba. Also, that rhythm that we have in the blood. It’s something that’s in us.”
At 21 years old, while on tour in Ecuador and his sights set on the U.S., Yosvani decided to leave Cuba.
“When I called (my family) and said, 'I want to stay here and have this opportunity,' they said, 'Of course we will support you. But, when will you come back?'"
In 2013 his career took a turn when he walked into the Majestic Theater.
“They were doing 'The Nutcracker.' I opened the door and said, 'I want to audition.' And they said, 'Of course.'
"I said, 'By the way, I’m from Cuba.'”
He got the job. And by the end of the year, he was first soloist for Ballet San Antonio. Now, after just five years in the U.S., Yosvani continues to use his passion to inspire others.
“If you have a dream, try to reach that dream,” he said. “You can have whatever you want if you work for it. If you want it.”
And he says he’s not going anywhere—not anytime soon.