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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Cuban Ballet Dancers Perform at Peru International Gala

Havana, Sep 16 (Prensa Latina) The art of the dancers of the Cuban National Ballet (BNC) Grettel Morejon, Sadaise Arencibia, Dani Hernandez and Adrian Sanchez was highly acclaimed at a dance show in Peru.

The Cuban dancers performed yesterday at a gala with Peruvian artists at the Municipal Theater of Trujillo, a city in the northern coast of that South American country.

Prima ballerina Arencibia and Sanchez (soloist) performed the pas de deux of 'Don Quixote' and 'Carmen'. The latter is based on a version by the Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso, one of the BNC founders along with Alicia and Fernando Alonso.

The leading fitures Morejon and Hernandez showed their skills in the pas de deux of 'Giselle' and 'Nutcracker, both in Alicia Alonso's version on the original.

The two dancers represented Cuba a few weeks ago at an international gala of stars in Chile.

Back in Cuba, the four dancers will begin to prepare to perform at the 26th International Ballet Festival in Havana, scheduled from October 28 to November 6.

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Cuban Dancers Gain Panamian Admiration

Grosso Panama, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) Twists, jumps, balance and a high level of interpretation resulted in the triumphs of Cubans Viengsay Valdes and Osiel Gouneo, who put the Panamanians on their feet in a gala in which other stars shone.

The pas de deux Don Quixote, one of the emblematic pieces of classical dance, was the perfect one for the first ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) to show her virtuosity and refined art, virtues that the public was able to reward with ovations.

However, the artistic and technical preciosity of Kitry and Basilio, main characters of Don Quixote was not the only thing that impacted those present in the capital Anayansi theater, but also the drama of Spartacus, whose Russian version, the best known worldwide, was interpreted here for the first time by Valdes.

The others who asserted the technical and artistic quality of the Cuban ballet school were the young representatives of the BNC Katherine Ochoa and Narciso Medina, who with their exquisite performance and synchronization of movements in the pas de deux Emerald and Zero achieved sympathy and applause from the public.

And if we talk about stars, it is worth highlighting the impeccable presentation of Misa Kuranaga and Patrick Palkens, main figures of the Boston Ballet who put many standing up after the performance of the pas de deux Black Swan, a work full of love.

The representatives of the National Ballet of Portugal Filipa de Castro and Carlos Pinillos deserved to be mention as well in this international gala, for they showed the passion that unites them in real life in Cantata, a beautiful interpretation in the midst of a tragic environment.

Other representative pieces of classical ballet were present in this function through the young Panamanians Eileen Frazer, Illya Kun, Ana Carolina Olarte and Andrea Diaz, who did not let themselves be overshadowed by the stars and demonstrated an interpretative and technical level that their audience rewarded with applause.

Meanwhile, Dusty Button, choreographer and main dancer of the Boston Ballet, showed enough talent to unfold and move from contemporary dance with Audible, her first solo performance, and Gamzatti Variation from La Bayadere, a classic piece.

Concluding a night full of luminaries, 'The Dance of the Hours' was performed to merge the efforts of all in one demonstrating the beauty of the dance as an expression of fantastic art, going beyond borders.

Grosso Panama, Jul 8 (Prensa Latina) Twists, jumps, balance and a high level of interpretation resulted in the triumphs of Cubans Viengsay Valdes and Osiel Gouneo, who put the Panamanians on their feet in a gala in which other stars shone.
The pas de deux Don Quixote, one of the emblematic pieces of classical dance, was the perfect one for the first ballerina of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) to show her virtuosity and refined art, virtues that the public was able to reward with ovations.

However, the artistic and technical preciosity of Kitry and Basilio, main characters of Don Quixote was not the only thing that impacted those present in the capital Anayansi theater, but also the drama of Spartacus, whose Russian version, the best known worldwide, was interpreted here for the first time by Valdes.

The others who asserted the technical and artistic quality of the Cuban ballet school were the young representatives of the BNC Katherine Ochoa and Narciso Medina, who with their exquisite performance and synchronization of movements in the pas de deux Emerald and Zero achieved sympathy and applause from the public.

And if we talk about stars, it is worth highlighting the impeccable presentation of Misa Kuranaga and Patrick Palkens, main figures of the Boston Ballet who put many standing up after the performance of the pas de deux Black Swan, a work full of love.

The representatives of the National Ballet of Portugal Filipa de Castro and Carlos Pinillos deserved to be mention as well in this international gala, for they showed the passion that unites them in real life in Cantata, a beautiful interpretation in the midst of a tragic environment.

Other representative pieces of classical ballet were present in this function through the young Panamanians Eileen Frazer, Illya Kun, Ana Carolina Olarte and Andrea Diaz, who did not let themselves be overshadowed by the stars and demonstrated an interpretative and technical level that their audience rewarded with applause.

Meanwhile, Dusty Button, choreographer and main dancer of the Boston Ballet, showed enough talent to unfold and move from contemporary dance with Audible, her first solo performance, and Gamzatti Variation from La Bayadere, a classic piece.

Concluding a night full of luminaries, 'The Dance of the Hours' was performed to merge the efforts of all in one demonstrating the beauty of the dance as an expression of fantastic art, going beyond borders.

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U.S. Policy Prevents National Ballet of Cuba's Performance

Havana, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) The National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) today clarified through a statement the facts about its frustrated performance in the United States with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Cuban company notified that the function conceived for next August with the symphony orchestra failed to consolidate due to the complex and expensive procedures to obtain the visas that could not be assumed by the Philharmonic.

'This situation was widely evaluated by both parties since last April of this year,' the text adds.

The clarification by the BNC is due to information circulated in several U.S. media about the refusal of visas to the group by the U.S. Department of State to act in that country.

The complex situation is the result of the visa policy established by U.S. President Donald Trump, which states that Cubans interested in traveling to the United States must process visas in a third country.

Despite these limitations, the prestigious group led by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso has made several tours of American cities with great acceptance by the public and specialized critics.

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