Dancing the role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake is every little ballerinas dream. It’s one that Kansas City Ballet Dancer Amaya Rodriguez had very early on growing up in Cuba.
“I became a dancer because of my dad,” she remembers. “At around 7 years old, my dad asked me to see Swan Lake with him. When I saw that ballet, I knew I had to become a ballerina.”
Amaya started ballet at age 9. However, when she was just 15 years old, her father passed away before she became a professional dancer. That’s one reason performing Swan Lake was so special.
“Swan Lake reminds me of him. When I take the stage, I’m always thinking about him and why I became a dancer. He is everywhere with me and watching me dance,” Amaya reveals.
Amaya danced with National Ballet of Cuba under Artistic Director Alicia Alonso for 12 years before coming to the U.S. to join Kansas City Ballet in 2016. During that time she gradually ascended through all the ranks. In 2011 she was promoted to principal dancer and had the chance to dance all the major ballets including the role of Odette/Odile in Alicia Alonso’s Swan Lake.
A New Life
When she had the chance to come to America to dance with Kansas City Ballet, Amaya took it and hasn’t looked back.
“I am going to live here for the rest of my life,” she gushed. “I love my company and my amazing director. They are part of my family. I love this city and I’m part of this community.”
An Incredible Experience
Amaya and her husband Enrique welcomed a son, Lucas, in May 2019. As excited as she was to become a new mom, she knew it would be a challenge to get back in tip-top condition in time to dance one of the most important roles of her career.
“It was really hard in the beginning,” she remembers. “There was more weight and my body was not working as usual. The first week back, I was almost crying during class. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to dance again. My legs and my flexibility weren’t that bad, but I felt like my lower back–oh, my goodness! But I just kept thinking about Swan Lake.”
She pushed through the pain and it got a little better each day. Her hard work paid off. Audiences jumped to their feet to applaud her performances. In fact, at the final curtain call, not only were the main roles, like Amaya’s, celebrated with applause and flowers, but each of the swans from the corps was presented a rose to recognize the incredible physical and mental stamina they’d achieved together.
“I felt like Wow! They recognize how hard we are working everyday. I started crying. It was one of my favorite nights in my career. During Swan Lake, the audiences reminded me of home. For a few minutes I felt like I was with my Cuban audience who had followed my career so closely and had watched me grow up. Now, after these performances, this Kansas City audience truly knows me and what I’m capable of and that feels very good. It was very special season and especially as a new mom,” Amaya admits.
Amaya is grateful, not only to the audience, but to every KCB Hero who supports Kansas City Ballet with donations and ticket purchases.
“I think our heroes are everything for us. They are special. We are forever grateful. Thank you so much to each of you.”