Panamanian Manu Navarro the new prima ballerina for the Cuban Ballet

The Panamanian Manu Navarro was named the prima ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba, which this year will perform special functions on the island and go on tour in Mexico and Spain to celebrate its 65th anniversary, reported the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina on Monday.

“To come here [to Cuba], dance much more and broaden my repertoire was an incredible opportunity that I could not let pass by,” said Navarro, a 24 year-old former dancer of the National Ballet of Panama, as quoted by the agency.

“The audience can expect me to give of myself completely and with much passion,” added the artist, who was trained in the U.S. by the Russian master Stanislav Issaev. Last year Navarro had the lead roles in "Nutcracker" and "La Bayadère" with the Panamanian company, and “among her desires yet to be fulfilled are to dance as the delicate white swan and the evil black swan” in the classic "Swan Lake", said Prensa Latina.

The Panamanian ballerina danced at the International Ballet Festival in La Havana in late 2012, which was when her interest in the National Ballet of Cuba reached the ears of its founder and director, Alicia Alonso, and her husband and director of the Dance Museum, Pedro Simón.

“The couple saw one of her performances at the event, [and] shortly after she received the invitation” to join the Cuban Ballet, reported the agency.

The invitation was “accompanied by a critique of her stage name, Manuelita, which to Alonso seemed too lengthy and childish”, so the dancer decided to instead go by Manu, indicated Prensa Latina.

The National Ballet of Cuba, which has received international acclaim and has produced numerous figures of world-wide renown, this year will perform on tours in Spain and Mexico, as well as shows and special functions on the island to celebrate its 65th anniversary and the 70th since its first production of the classic "Giselle" by Alicia Alonso, who is now 92 years old.

They may also go on tour to Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a recent report from Simón.