Raul Castro congratulates Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdés

Havana, January 30 (RHC) - The First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party’s Central Committee, Raúl Castro, has congratulated premier dancer Viengsay Valdés for her recent appointment as Director of the Cuban National Ballet Company (BNC).

‘That responsibility, which you have earned for your talent, effort, discipline and prestige, should continue the legacy of the Cuban ballet school and the cultural work of the Revolution,’ said the leader in a letter delivered to the artist by Deputy Culture Minister, Fernando Rojas. The letter was read in front of all company workers and Cuban Writers and Artists Association President, Luis Morlote. ‘My most sincere congratulations on your appointment as Director of the BNC, the prestigious company that, in the hands of the always beloved Alicia Alonso, has been the pride of our people,’ says the letter.

According to Valdés, it was a surprise for her that encourages her and recognizes her effort developed in the career she loves. ‘Raúl has seen me dance on many occasions and the best compliment I can receive is his and my country's recognition as this encourages me in my new responsibility,’ said the artist. The premier dancer gave a keynote lecture yesterday at the University of Havana’s Master Lecture Hall about the identity of classical dance in Cuba.

First Deputy Rector, Dionisio Zaldívar, gave a special recognition to Valdés, ‘for her invaluable commitment and dedication to BNC and fostering ties between the Cuban ballet school and the University of Havana.’

Edited by Damian Donestevez
  • Published in Culture

The Nutcracker by the Cuban National Ballet

The Cuban National Ballet has announced a Nutcracker season at Havana’s Grand Theater for four weekends. The company’s performances of the most popular classic worldwide at the end of the year will be held on the 20th, 21st, 22nd, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th of December, as well as on January 1, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12. The ballet is a version by late ballet legend and former company director Alicia Alonso.

The Cuban ensemble’s shows include the performances of deputy artistic director and prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés, premier dancers Grettel Morejón, Anette Delgado, Sadaise Arencibia, Dani Hernández, Rafael Quenedit, principals Adrián Sánchez, Chanel Cabrera, Claudia García and Adrián Sánchez in the leading roles. Chavela Riera, Diego Tápanes, Katherine Ochoa, Alejandro Olivera, Narciso Medina, among other artists, will also be in main roles.

A famous 19th century fantasy tale, the Nutcracker and the King of Mice, is the basis of a ballet dealing with a girl's fascination for a nutcracker that she receives as a Christmas gift. The world premiere took place at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, on December 17, 1892. Many of the symbols and rites of Western Christmas served as a pretext for German writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and Russian choreographer Lev Ivanov to give free reign to their imagination on the basis of the dream of a girl that includes soldiers, mice, snowflakes, flowers and fairies.

Based on all previous ones, Alonso created her ownversion for the Cuban National Ballet in 1998. The famous Nutcracker pas deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy was, for decades, an important piece in the repertoire of Alonso, who first performed it in 1945, when she was part of New York’s Ballet Theater, currently American Ballet Theater (ABT).

Edited by Damian Donestevez
  • Published in Culture

Cuba's Ballet de Camagüey presents Don Quijote in Havana

Havana, Nov 20 (Prensa Latina) The Ballet de Camagüey announced it will present here its version of the classic Don Quijote, created by the Cuban Gonzalo Galguera, director of a dance company in Germany.

The Garcia Lorca hall of the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana will host the performance this Saturday, November 23, and Sunday, November 24.

Galguera, dancer and artistic director of the Ballet Magdeburg, won the prize of the first Ibero-American Choreography Contest, held here in 1998, under the auspices of the General Society of Authors and Publishers and the National Ballet of Cuba.

He has worked with the Ballet Municipal de Lima, Joven Ballet Maria de Avila in Spain, and Germany's Komische Oper Berlin, among many others.

His own adaptations of several pieces of the classical repertoire attract the attention of critics, including his version of Dracula, which was nominated for best choreography and production by German magazine TANZ, chosen by the most important European dance critics.

Ballet de Camagüey Director Regina Balaguer defined this version of Don Quijote as jovial and very fresh because the whole company dances, regardless of rank.

Unlike most of the classic ballets, Don Quijote is not only a mere character who walks and joins the threads of the plot but, at the same time, dances at all times, the teacher noted in exclusive statements to Prensa Latina.

The Ballet de Camagüey is almost 52 years old, was founded by dancer and teacher Vicentina de la Torre, in Camagüey, an eastern province of Cuba located about 500 kilometers from Havana.

One of the company's directors was Fernando Alonso (from 1975 to 1992), father of the Cuban school of ballet, an entity recognized worldwide for its quality and characteristics.

  • Published in Culture

Mexican embassy awards Cuban artists

Havana, Nov 19 (Prensa Latina) The Mexican Embassy in Havana granted the Cultural Merit award to Cuban prima ballerina Viengsay Valdes, choreographer Alberto Mendez and Cultural Director of Habana Vieja municipality, Reinaldo Mendez.

Valdes, deputy artistic director of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), has shined with her dance in all five continents and has been the guest artist of several galas, companies and festivals in many countries, a Mexican diplomat noted at a gala in Havana's Cathedral Square.

Cuban Deputy Culture Minister Fernando Rojas and Russian Ambassador Andrei Guskov were present at the ceremony, at which the Mariana de Gonitch Singing Academy, the Okantomi group and the BNC performed.

During the event, Valdes was also presented with the Gitana Tropical distinction, which is granted every year by Havana's Provincial Culture Directorate to those who contribute to the development of Cuban culture.

'I would like to express my deepest gratitude to those who appreciate art and all the organizations involved in such a beautiful event. It is a great honor for me to receive this award and above all to dedicate it to all those Cuban women who are also heroines of the dance we have today in Cuba,' Valdes said.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban National Ballet celebrates Cuban capital’s 500 birthday

Havana, October 29 (RHC) -- Dedicated to the 500 years of Havana and as a tribute to Alicia Alonso, the Cuban National Ballet Company will offer a season that will show the ensemble’s versatility beginning this weekend. The statements were made by the dance group’s deputy artistic director and prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés.

Valdés highlighted the premiere in Cuba of the abstract ballet Concerto DSCH, with a score by Dmitri Shostakovich and choreographed by ABT’s resident choreographer, Russian-American Alexei Ratmansky, who traveled to Havana for the montage of the piece with the Cuban dancers. Love, Fear, Loss by Brazilian Ricardo Amarante, inspired in the life and songs of Edith Piaf will also be danced to convey three feelings: love, fear and loss. The premier dancer also stressed that the performances of the two weekends at Havana’s Grand Theater Alicia Alonso will also include important pieces from the company's repertoire, such as Les Sylphides and El poema del fuego by Alberto Méndez.

Edited by Damian Donestevez
  • Published in Culture

Director of English National Ballet praised Alicia Alonso's technique

Havana, Oct 18 (Prensa Latina) The dancer and director of the English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo, today described Cuban the Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso as a dancer of incomparable technique in her time.

Alicia was also a woman of great courage and determination that overcame many difficulties and leaves an extraordinary legacy for Cuba and the world of ballet, said the artist in statements to Prensa Latina.

Rojo treasures multiple medals and titles such as the 2005 Prince of Asturias Award and the 2008 Benois of the Dance, considered the Oscar for artistic manifestation.

In Cuba, this dancer from Spain has performed at several international Ballet festivals in Havana and was the main figure of the functions offered in this capital by the Royal Ballet of London during her only visit to the country in 2009.

Rojo was the star of that company and is probably the foreign artist who has danced with the greatest number of Cubans on the planet. World critics reference her scenic couple with Carlos Acosta as one of the greatest dance partner in the history of the dance.

Alonso died the day before at 98 years of age, in Havana, the city where she was born on December 21, 1920 and was director of the National Ballet of Cuba, company founded in 1948 by her and the brothers Alberto and Fernando Alonso.

  • Published in Culture

Alicia Alonso's funeral announced for Saturday

Havana, October 18 (RHC) Cuba's Ministry of Culture (MINCULT) has informed that funeral honors of legendary Cuban ballet dancer Alicia Alonso will be held next Saturday in the Great Theater that bears her name.

Starting at 9:00 am, the Cuban people will be able to pay tribute to the great artist.
Her family wants her remains to be buried that same day in a family pantheon in Colon Cemetery in Havana, the city where she was born on December 21, 1920.
Cuban cultural institutions, organizations of creators, artists, and writers, together with Alicia Alonso's relatives, have agreed, not to observe mourning, but a great tribute that will be shared by all her people.
The Ministry of Culture will provide more information on the details of the funeral.
It also conveyed its condolences to Alicia's family, to the National Ballet of Cuba,  and all her admirers in Cuba and other parts of the world.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

  • Published in Culture

Alicia Alonso's death mourned in the U.S. dance community

Washington, October 18 (RHC)--The dance community has lost a true icon, the U.S. publication Dance Magazine said after the death of the legendary Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso, whose legacy also highlighted other U.S. media and institutions.

Alicia Alonso passed away Thursday at 98. Our hearts go out to her friends and family. The dance community has lost a true icon, the magazine said on Twitter.

That magazine also published a work that initially appeared this Thursday in Pointe magazine with the title Remembering Alicia Alonso, Cuba's Prima Ballerina Assoluta.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind, said Toba Singer, a connoisseur of the island 's dance and author of the book Fernando Alonso, the father of ballet in Cuba.

After a career in New York, Alicia Alonso, and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) and the National Ballet School of Cuba, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country, Singer said.

For its part, the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC indicated on Twitter that it joined in mourning the death of the ballet legend, and recalled that the dancer was present in 2018 at that important cultural institution during the Artes de Cuba Festival.

The center recalled that Alonso received a standing ovation in May last year during the BNC presentations, which then commemorated the 40th anniversary of its historic debut on that stage.

Similarly, the American Ballet Theatre, one of the most recognized classical dance companies of the 20th century, honored Alonso's imprint on that group, of which she was the founder.

Alicia Alonso was a driving force in classical ballet in Cuba and around the world. She respected the traditions of ballet and dedicated her life to maintaining them through the training of several generations, said the artistic director of that ensemble, Kevin McKenzie.

The Washington Post, in turn, called the Caribbean island artist an 'indomitable ballet star,' highlighted her impeccable technique and stage presence, and celebrated her famed performance in Giselle's title role.

' More than 60 years after she first performed it, Ms. Alonso’s interpretation is still widely considered the definitive version of one of ballet’s most difficult and demanding parts,' noted the Washington Post.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
  • Published in Cuba
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