The space, in need of renovation, represented a radical change from the days when the couple danced on the world's biggest stages as part of the
It was in 1964 that White and de SaÁ gave up career, family, and, in de SaÁ's case, country, to flee the Fidel Castro regime. They eventually chose the tiny
"That was it," said White, 79. "We were out on our own."
This week the school they founded in that room above what is
More than 70 of those students have gone on to become members of professional companies, including the
Several of those former students will return Wednesday to perform in the company's anniversary celebration at
Missing from the audience will be the woman whose hand de SaÁ couldn't seem to let go of last week, as the two women watched a rehearsal for the performance.
De SaÁ's identical twin, Ramona, director of the
In 1964, Margarita -- married to White, who is originally from
Sitting in the reception area outside the academy's main studio space, the sisters sat side by side, simultaneously declining to give their ages.
"I never thought this was going to happen. This is very emotional," Ramona de SaÁ, speaking in Spanish, said of the visit with her sister, who translated for her.
Ramona de SaÁ's trip was part of a monthlong U.S. stay that included teaching at a ballet school in
"For a suburban school to produce 70 professional dancers says a lot about the quality of the training they are receiving," said
Last year, White and de SaÁ began turning over the reins of the school to their daughter,
She will soon be in charge of managing the school where about 250 students -- from ages 5 to 90 -- take classes each year. Pendleton's parents are in the process of retiring.
White and de SaÁ married in 1960 after meeting in
After the revolution, the Alonso company became the
"It was very hard in the beginning," said Margarita de SaÁ, who kept her plans a secret from her sister, a supporter of the revolution.
The Whites eventually settled in the area and began teaching at the
"We got a map and started driving around,"
Through many years of the dance school's growth, the de SaÁ sisters remained estranged, but eventually reconciled and began seeing each other outside of
"Beautiful," Ramona de SaÁ said, describing her sister's school. But "they need a bigger space."
The academy's small brick storefront headquarters has been a training ground for
Kubiak, now 22, dances with the
"The art of classical ballet is really special, and they showed me that," said Kubiak, who will be dancing at the anniversary celebration. For her, the academy's instruction has changed ballet "from an activity to a passion."
When Kubiak signed with the Manassas company, it was her turn to participate in an academy ritual. Graduates who join professional troupes sign the wall outside the main studio. Kubiak's signature is in red.
He pointed to the signatures and said "more of these," and what they represent.
(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services