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Thu Oct 17, 2019, 02:01 PM

Alicia Alonso, the grande dame of Cuban ballet, has died


Peter Orsi and Andrea Rodriguez, Associated Press
Updated 1:16 pm CDT, Thursday, October 17, 2019



Photo: Ramon Espinosa, AP
IMAGE 1 OF 9
FILE - In this March 20, 2019 file photo, Cuba's Prima Ballerina Alicia Alonso receives the Star of the Century award from the Latin Music Institute in recognition of her contribution to ballet and culture, during a ceremony in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's national ballet has reported that Alonso has died on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

HAVANA (AP) — Alicia Alonso, the revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of artistic loyalty to Cuba's socialist system, died Thursday at age 98.

Miguel Cabrera, an official at the National Ballet of Cuba founded by Alonso, said she died at a hospital in Havana.

As founder and director of the National Ballet of Cuba, Alonso personified the island's arts program under Fidel Castro's communist rule and she kept vise-like control over the troupe past her 90th birthday despite being nearly blind for decades.

In New York in the 1940s and '50s, Alonso was one of the earliest members of the company that became the American Ballet Theatre, helping it develop into one of the more important ballet troupes in the U.S. She was recognized the world over for the stylized beauty of her choreography and was named prima ballerina assoluta, the rarely bestowed highest honor in dance.

The ballet company announced it would dedicate Thursday evening's performance at Lincoln Center of the George Balanchine classic "Theme and Variations" to Alonso's memory. Balanchine created the work for ABT and Alonso performed at its world premiere on November 25, 1947, partnered with Igor Youskevitch.

More:
https://www.chron.com/news/world/article/Cuban-official-says-revered-ballerina-Alicia-14541833.php




















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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 02:29 PM

1. I saw her dance the "Cuban" Carmen in NY in the 70s --

she was mostly blind and the way she did it was to have very strong lights in the wings of the stage so that she could orient herself. She was stunning.

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 03:43 PM

2. Oh, my gosh. You're the first one I've heard of who has seen her perform in person.

She's legendary.

Didn't know her eyes were failing even then.

Makes her look even more amazing, because she has been working hard in ballet all these years, and championing proteges who've gone on to work in the greatest places on the planet.

I read she was working in New York when she learned the revolution was successful at the end of 1958 at which time she moved right back to her home and began the new ballet.

Very few great dancers in our lifetimes with so much respect and honor attached to them.

Carmen, too. I just saw some photos of her in that dance earlier today.

It will be easier for those of us who saw your post to remember your name as the one who saw Alicia Alonso's "Carmen," another "fiery woman."

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 03:52 PM

3. My goodness, I don't know what to say!

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 06:58 PM

4. You are a lucky person to have been a witness to an actual Alonso performance!

I have never seen anyone in person who was in any way close to her level of ability. Not sure I've ever seen anyone on tv, even, who could approach her skill.

It's hard to believe she lived so long and continued to contribute to her field, and even made her country very special because of her international recognition. She was at the top of the major, major league everywhere.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #4)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 10:45 PM

5. It's true, I'm immensely lucky.

(I also got to play Carmen with Placido Domingo.) (I'm a violist.)
(When I lived in Venice (Italy) I had a Venetian housemate. I said something, she answered, "Che culo hai!!!" which means: you've got quite an ass. (which I always have had!) I was rather taken aback but she explained that it's slang for: how lucky you are. Which I definitely am.

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 10:59 PM

6. What an expression! Of course, so many U.S expression would seem bizarre elsewhere.

You're also lucky to have honed a talent to the level necessary to play in symphonies. It's something which touches so many other people, it has continuous meaning and value to many.

Very unusual learning you've been performing at the highest level, there's a fairly small number of people world wide who can make that claim, of course! Wow.

Thanks for sharing a look at what clearly is an unusual, and special career and life. Bet you wouldn't change it, either!

Definitely deeply interesting, and special.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #6)

Thu Oct 17, 2019, 11:35 PM

7. BTW thank you so much for the incredibly fascinating things you post. xoxo

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Oct 21, 2019, 10:00 PM

8. BBC:Alicia Alonso: Legendary ballet dancer dies aged 98

Alicia Alonso: Legendary ballet dancer dies aged 98
17 October 2019

. . .

Alonso is considered one of the greatest 20th Century ballerinas. She began to lose her sight at 19, relying on only the stage lights to guide her.

After the 1959 revolution, she helped found the National Ballet of Cuba with then leader Fidel Castro.

"Alicia Alonso has gone and left an enormous void but unbeatable legacy," President Miguel Diaz-Canel said.

"She positioned Cuba at the altar of the best of dance worldwide. Thank you Alicia for your immortal work," he added.

Born Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad Martínez del Hoyo on 21 December 1921, she first appeared on stage in 1931. She fell in love with ballet.

More:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50091870

(Photos, video at link.)

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Oct 23, 2019, 12:57 AM

9. Cubans will never forget their ballerina Alicia Alonso

Cubans will never forget their ballerina Alicia Alonso
The nation recognised that she had given up international fame to develop ballet as an art form and entertainment on the island, writes Sheila Cross

Letters

Tue 22 Oct 2019 12.24 EDTLast modified on Tue 22 Oct 2019 12.50 EDT

It is impossible to exaggerate the impact of Alicia Alonso (Obituary, 21 October). It is extraordinary that a ballerina could develop almost as much adulation in the impoverished island of Cuba as Castro.

On my first visit to Cuba, in 1981, the shops were virtually bare, and even tourist hotels were unable to offer much choice of food, with pineapple dominating each meal, from breakfast on. But on a tour of the island the minibus stopped at a little shop in an isolated village and, while it was bare of essential foods, there were Alonso bags and other items.

The nation recognised that she had given up international fame, as one of the greatest ballerinas of the century, to develop ballet as an art form and entertainment on the island; the result was soft power as the excellence of Cuban ballet training became world renowned.

As a director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, her productions of classics, notably Giselle, were renowned, yet in recent years she encouraged the British friends of the company to sponsor more contemporary ballets by young leading female choreographers from Europe.

Next year the International Ballet Festival in Havana will celebrate her remarkable achievements.
Sheila Cross
Newby Wiske, North Yorkshire

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/oct/22/cubans-will-never-forget-their-ballerina-alicia-alonso

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