Cuban National Ballet is Back after Successful Performances in Spain

Havana, July 15 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban National Ballet (BNC) has returned to Havana on Monday after two months of successful performances in Spain, where it drew the attention of the public and specialized critics.

'Great' was the adjective used to highlight the performance in theatres of Madrid, a coliseum that had to place a poster on its door of sold out seats.

The company received a lot of praise from the local critics, which highlighted its excellence and praised Viengsay Valdes, the Queen (of the swans) of the troupe, as Deputy Director of the BNC.

In an interview in Spain, Valdes confessed her wish to preserve the historical legacy of the dance group, while at the same time working to bring new choreographers and works to more than the 700 of the repertoire.

We don't want to be typecast in the classic. The Cuban Ballet still has a long way to go, she added.

The journey began last May 24 in Oviedo and also extended to the Basque Country, Andalusia, Madrid and Barcelona, receiving applause from spectators with the works Cinderella and Swan Lake.

The cast included Anette Delgado, Dani Hernandez, Grettel Morejon, Raul Abreu, Chanell Cabrera, Claudia Garcia, Ginett Moncho, Yankiel Vazquez, Adrian Sanchez, Ernesto Diaz, Felix Rodriguez, Ely Regina and Chavela Riera.

The company is preparing for its next presentations, scheduled for September at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso and then in several Mexican cities with the classic Giselle.

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Cuban National Ballet Schedules Projects with US Companies

New York, May 14 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban National Ballet (BNC) is scheduling on Tuesday new projects and collaborations with prestigious U.S. companies such as American Ballet Theater (ABT) and New York City Ballet (NYCB).

BNC artistic deputy director Viengsay Valdes told Prensa Latina that along with those American ballet groups, a grand gala is being prepared to pay homage to Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso in 2020 in Havana.

During her recent visit to New York City, Valdes met with ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie, and the executive director of that company, Kara Medoff Barnet.

The Cuban prima ballerina attended an ABT performance where a version of a 19th-century piece was presented.

Last weekend, Valdes attended many NYCB performances at David Koch Theater, of Lincoln Center, and went to a performance of the Mark Morris Dance Group, at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Upon her return to Cuba on Tuesday, Valdes will begin to prepare a season of the BNC with 'new proposals and challenges for our dancers.'

Valdes, recognized as one of the leading figures of the Cuban ballet nowadays, has been guest artist of the Washington Ballet, of United States; the Ballet Concerto de Puerto Rico; the Joburg Ballet of South Africa; Bolshoi Ballet and  Mariinski Ballet, of Russia, among other companies.

Valdes have been chosen among the 100 best dancers in the world in the 2010-2011 season by the prestigious magazine Dance Europe, and has taken her art to stages of the five continents.

Since January 22, she became the artistic deputy director of the company, directed by legendary Alicia Alonso.

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Anette Delgado returned dressed as a princess

The first dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) first danced in public after her daughter’s birth.

It has been a year away from the stages. Little time, if we take into account that she was pregnant and had a girl. A long time, if we mind some of her fans, eager to see her again starring in a classic. However, Anette Delgado returned on Sunday to the Alicia Alonso Great Theater of Havana dressed as a princess: she starred in Cinderella, Pedro Consuegra’s two-act ballet based on the music by Johann Strauss Jr.

“It has been a huge challenge, it’s like a debut to me”, she previously commented to CubaSi during a break from her rehearsal in one of the halls of the National Ballet of Cuba.

It has to be; it about a demanding choreography, which demands from the dancer a very high technical level (numerous complicated steps, difficult sequences… that must be taken over effortlessly) and multiple embodiment: Greta, Cinderella, is the humble maid of her stepmother and at the same time (thanks to magic) the gleaming princess who falls in love with the prince.

There was no haste, Anette Delgado could have returned to the stage with a simpler ballet, “but this one was already programmed and I decided to face the risk; although –she jokingly says– I almost regret it”.

The stage she leaves behind has been complex, “from all points of view, physical and spiritually”, but she does not want to waste time sitting.

“I have worked very hard for this play at the rehearsal rooms and believe me, the things that I effortlessly did a year ago are usually harder now. But I am doing my best because I know that many people are eager to see me.

“I know there will be steps that maybe aren’t accomplished the way I did before leaving, but this is a process, we must take it easy. Ballet is a very strong exercise, although not everybody realizes it.

“Of course, you can be sure of something: every time I stand on a stage, every time I dance whatever repertoire play, I give up everything. So, I will dance the best Cinderella I can, with the certainty that I gradually will recover what I have lost”.

Anette was accompanied by her usual partner, who is also her husband: first dancer Dani Hernández. He was an indisputable support, but the entire cast is happy to share the stage with her.

“I hope the audience grasps the outcome of my job, I hope it enjoys the show as I am going to enjoy it myself. Dancing has always made very happy”, the Cuban ballet star had announced. And as always, she didn’t disappoint.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Alicia Alonso, Cuba's Most Universal Artist, is 98 Years Old

Havana, Dec 21 (PL) The world's most renowned Cuban artist, Alicia Alonso, celebrates her 98th birthday today while the company she directs is rehearsing one of her favorite classics, The Swan Lake, an inescapable work in her career.

Alonso dedicated her life to dance, first to form herself as a respectable dancer, then to form her own style, and then to perpetuate the ballet within Cuban culture, as an integral and inseparable part of it.

Alicia, together with the brothers Fernando and Alberto Alonso, founded the first professional ballet company in Cuba, 60 years ago, when this art was scarcely understood in Latin societies.

Despite the social, political and health contradictions she suffered, this woman's decision and courage made her persist in elevating her rank as a dancer.

She backed the social revolution in Cuba started in 1959, and rose above prejudices and bourgeois ideologies to spread her art to the people, the factories, the fields, a forest, a valley, any street.

She became famous in the dance world for her prodigious twists and the particular way she appropriated the technique, she became the protagonist of legends.

Some still speak of the fifth Alonso to refer to a specific feet position, while old ballet enthusiasts especially love the times they saw her transform into Giselle and Carmen.

The 98-year-old artist remains active as a teacher, choreographer and director of the Cuban National Ballet and the Havana International Ballet Festival, involving the world's most renowned dancers.

Few calculate her love for animals, especially a great passion for dogs, and the extraordinary sense of humor which led her to play jokes on some of her partenaires on stage.

She made some paintings in her youth and loved blue and universal literature since she was a child.

Besides, she always rejects that humans inhabit this universe alone and tells among her yearnings that they could sit on the Malecon in Havana to take a break and enjoy a wave show, because fame prevents her from going unnoticed.

The group he still leads will revive the most popular ballet, Swan Lake, in January at the Havana Grand Theatre, which has added the name of the famous artist to its name since 2015.

The applause and ovations with which the Cuban public receives Alonso upon his arrival there or at any theater in the country, also raise a history hard to compare.

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Havana Hosts Exhibition Dedicated to Alicia Alonso

Havana, Dec 19 (Prensa Latina) The painter Jose Miguel Perez inaugurated an exhibition dedicated to exalting the image of the most recognized Cuban artist, Alicia Alonso, who will turn 98 on December 21.

The audience will be able to enjoy the exhibition, entitled Divas, at the Zoom Monographic Room of the Grand Theater of Havana, a coliseum that has added the name of the Cuban prima ballerina assoluta to its exhibits since 2015.

'He surprised us again with these works that let us see her beyond her image,' wrote the journalist Toni Pinera in his introductory words.

Perez's exhibition is conceived as a tribute to Alonso, on her 98th birthday, and the 75th anniversary of her debut in the character of Giselle, as she was the fist Latin American ballerina who played that major role. According to critics, her performance is still one of the most relevant.

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New Book Praises Distinctness of Cuban Alicia Alonso in Giselle

Essayists and dance critics recall on Saturday the debut of Alicia Alonso in Giselle in Cuba with the presentation of a book that compiles testimonies of the artist''s distinctive mark on that vital character.

The 26th International Ballet Festival of Havana Alicia Alonso celebrated that event on Friday with a performance of the masterpiece of Romantic ballet, performed by the first dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba Viengsay Valdes, Sadaise Arencibia, Grettel Morejon, Dani Hernandez, Rafael Quenedit, and Raul Abreu.

As part of the collateral activities of the event, on Saturday the Cuban poet, essayist, and critic Roberto Mendez will present the book Alicia Alonso o la eternidad de Giselle (Alicia Alonso or the eternity of Giselle), by Mayda Bustamante, published by Editorial Cumbres, of Madrid, Spain.

The compendium, profusely illustrated, is the most complete anthology of critical texts on the subject and the authors, experts from different countries, reflect the contributions of Alonso to the leading role of Giselle.

The activity will take place at 11:00, local time, in the popular Calle de Madera in the Plaza de Armas, in Old Havana, within the historic center of this capital.

Alonso debuted in Giselle on November 2, 1943, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, along with the prestigious English dancer Anton Dolin as Albrecht and the cast of American Ballet Theatre (ABT), company of which she was one of its stars.

Bustamante's book also allows us to appreciate how the dancer's contributions extend beyond her extraordinary interpretation, since the choreographic version she created of that work still captivates the specialists in multiple scenarios and, in 1966, she received a prize at a festival in Paris, France.

The first dancers of the ABT, Hee Seo and Cory Stearns, will be the stars of the Giselle show on Saturday, scheduled to take place at 17:00, local time, in the Avellaneda hall of the National Theater of Cuba, together with the company of the Caribbean country.

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US Ballet Dancers Perform at Festival Gala in Cuba

Havana, Oct 29 (Prensa Latina) Dancers from several American companies will perform Monday in Cuba during the 26th Alicia Alonso International Ballet Festival in Havana.

The festival, opened on Sunday, takes place in Havana until November 6 with the participation of ballet dancers from more than a dozen countries.

Under the title 'Stars of American Ballet', representatives of the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and other relevant American companies will carry out a gala at Mella Theater on Monday and Tuesday.

Among the announced dancers are Daniel Ulbricht, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, Sterling Hyltin, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Indiana Woodward and Gonzalo Garcia, of the NYCB.

Joseph Gatti and Danielle Diniz; as well as Ukrainian ballroom dancers Antonina Skobina and Denys Drozdyuk, now living in the United States, will join to the gala.

Drozdyuk is a three-time world champion in ballroom, two-time U.S. national champion and has several awards in this dance modality; while Diniz has a vast experience in musical theater works in her country.

Much of the choreographies in the program belongs to renowned creators such as George Balanchine (the pas de deux of 'Tarantella', 'Apollo' and 'Diamond'), Christopher Wheeldon (Liturgy) and Alexei Ratmansky (Pictures at an Exhibition Pas).

Skobina and Drozdyuk will dance one piece of the acclaimed 'King of Pop' Michael Jackson; while Gatti and Ulbricht will show virtuosity to the rhythm of 'The Animals' in the superb version of 'The House of the Rising Sun', with choreography by Brazilian Marcelo Gomes.

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Viengsay Valdes Highlights Historic Legacy of National Ballet of Cuba

Havana, Oct 27 (Prensa Latina) The prima ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), Viengsay Valdes said on Saturday that preserving and defending the historic legacy of her company, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary on October 28, is important.

The anniversary will be the main reason for celebration at the 26th Alicia Alonso International Ballet Festival in Havana, which will take place from October 28 to November 6, with participation of artists from more than a dozen countries.

It is important right now to remember and preserve what we have and to defend it, so that the BNC continues to be a great internationally recognized company, Valdes noted during a rehearsal of the opening gala.

With the help of relatives, artists and intellectuals of the time, Alicia, Fernando and Alberto Alonso founded the company in Havana on October 28, 1948. The dedication and love for what they did in the beginning is admirable, and the BNC in the early days was composed of several dancers, not only from Cuban, but also from the United States and other nations, the current prima ballerina pointed out.

In 1940, Alicia and Fernando Alonso joined the Ballet Theater (now the American Ballet Theater), in the United States, and they took advantage of a recess of that company to invite most of their colleagues to Cuba in order to establish a classical ballet company.

The three Alonsos and other founders devoted themselves, with a sense of commitment, to the task that had been theirs: establishing a new company and then a new school, becoming the youngest internationally recognized institution, Valdes said.

After the company was founded, several artists needed at the time to resume their jobs or other contracts abroad to survive and the Alonsos needed to found an academy to raise some money and mainly to train their own dancers.

I feel proud to be part of the BNC and, above all, it is a privilege to have had great teachers, said Valdes, who was a student of Alicia and Fernando Alonso, the so-called four jewels of National Ballet of Cuba (Josefina Mendez, Loipa Araujo, Aurora Bosch and Mirta Pla) and many other teachers.

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