By Carrie Seidman
April 28, 2014
[Sarasota, Florida, USA] – The Cuban National Ballet School has a reputation for turning out extraordinary dancers coveted by the top ballet companies around the world. But it was an American from Sarasota, dancing for only four years, who won a gold medal at last week’s XII Concurso Internacional para Jóvenes Estudiantes de Ballet (12th International Competition for Young Ballet Students) in Havana, organized by the historic school.
Francisco Serrano, better known to family and friends as “Panchi,” took the top prize for variations — solo excerpts from traditional ballets — in the advanced division, defeating students from the very school where his parents, Cuban natives who defected in 1993, trained. The 17-year-old, who was recently awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet in London at the Youth America Grand Prix competition finals in New York, was the first-ever and only contestant from the United States.
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