Liana Munro

Photo: Lainie Munro

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The Dancer: Liana Munro
I can see myself as a little girl, standing on my father's two-tone shoes, clutching his guayabera as he led us in a salsa. He danced with so much love. In those days, I longed to be a ballerina. But this was Cuba in the mid-1950s—the revolution was under way. Weeks before I was to dance in Cinderella, the theater was bombed.

When I was 13, my parents sent me to school in Jamaica and I stopped ballet. I graduated, got married, and moved to Florida. We had two daughters and they both danced. For years I coordinated recitals and helped with costumes. When my daughters performed, I felt so much joy, as if I were dancing through them. Then they left home, and life revolved around my work in exports. But shortly after I turned 64, two friends happened to ask, "If you could pursue any dream, what would it be?" The answer was dance, of course. I had never stopped loving it. With their encouragement, I started lessons in salsa, rumba, and bolero—Latin dances from my childhood.

Dancing transported me: I couldn't think or worry while my mind was focused on the steps, and my spirit was moved by the rhythms. I'd go to the studio after a stressful day and leave relaxed and happy. Now I dance at least four days a week. My goal isn't to be the best dancer. I just want to dance with passion, the way my father did so many years ago. —As told to Jeryl Brunner