Attorney Bernard Walsh Supports Local Immigrant Artist
Bernard F. Walsh and Lauren Ann Walsh support Cuban immigrant dancers Octavio Martin and Yaima Franco.
Octavio Martin is the new Artistic Director for the Brandon Ballet. Having a long-standing relationship with the Brandon Ballet, Octavio said, “this is a wonderful opportunity for me to do what I love to do.”
Octavio and his wife, Yaima Franco, immigrated from Cuba where both had international reputations with The National Ballet of Cuba. Formally with Sarasota Ballet for 7 years as a principal dancer, along with Franco, the company’s ballet mistress, both decided to pursue their passion. Knowing they wanted to stay in Florida, they began the search for the right company. With the support of Lauren Ann and Bernard Walsh, Sarasota’s arts patrons, Octavio was able to find and accept his new role with the Brandon Ballet.
Last weekend, Martin tapped his top students and some professional friends to present his first public program. The program included original choreography and admirable artistry. “Aire,” choreographed by Martin for himself and his wife, was a first opportunity to see the couple dance together. Franco, who was trained in Cuba’s impressive ballet system, had crisp technique, beautiful lines and a lovely serene presence.
Octavio and his wife became American citizens in 2011.
About Octavio Martin
Octavio Martin is a native of Habana Cuba, and received his dance training at the Cuban National Ballet School “Alejo Carpentier.” Mr. Martin joined the National Ballet of Cuba in 1994 under the direction of Alicia Alonso, and in 2001, was promoted to a Primer Bailarin. During his twelve years at the National Ballet of Cuba, Mr. Martin represented the company in galas, festivals and theaters in Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia. In 2004, he received the ‘Alejo Carpentier’ medal, one of the highest honors in Cuba for an artist; in the same year, he was invited to appear as a Principal Guest Artist for The Royal Winnipeg Ballet of Canada. In 2006, he joined The Sarasota Ballet first under the direction of Robert de Warren and then under the direction of Iain Webb.
About Yaima Franco
Ms. Franco began her ballet training at the age of nine at the Cuban National Ballet School “Alejo Carpentier.” She graduated in 1999, and then joined The National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso dancing soloist roles in romantic and classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Don Quixote, Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Paquita. Ms. Franco also danced in contemporary ballets from choreographers such as Alberto Mendez, Ivan Tenorio, Juan Carlos Santamaria and Maria Rovira. In 2000, Yaima danced in George Balanchine’s Ballo Della Regina, staged by Merrill Ashley; the work is one of the few Balanchine ballets performed in Cuba.