The 2015 documentary film Horizontes features her life, as well as that of a middle-aged and a young dancer in Cuba. The best among them, such as Viengsay Valdés, who now heads the company, have emerged as stars in their own right. [9] Her first serious debut was in Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty at the Teatro Auditorium on 26 October 1932. [24] She married Fernando Alonso in 1937, when she was 16. She established a ballet tradition in the unlikeliest of places and developed a training system that has produced some of the world’s finest dancers. [4], Alonso was born "on the outskirts" of Havana in 1920, the fourth child of Antonio Martínez Arredondo, lieutenant veterinarian of the army, and Ernestina del Hoyo y Lugo, a dressmaker. She staged Giselle at the Vienna State Opera and the San Carlo Theater of Naples, Italy, as well as La Fille Mal Gardée at the Prague State Opera, and Sleeping Beauty at La Scala. Alicia Alonso (born Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martínez del Hoyo; 21 December 1920 – 17 October 2019) was a Cuban prima ballerina assoluta and choreographer whose company became the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in 1955. The Cuban government from the 1960s through the 1980s did not allow Cubans to perform in the United States, to some extent for fear of defectors, and monitored those with contacts outside Cuba via phone cables and letters. She cultivated her iconic status because it helped her get what she wanted, to establish the institutions upon which she could build a classical ballet tradition in Cuba. The biennial Havana International Ballet Festivals she organized were supposed to display the excellence of the BNC but as the years passed, in comparison with participating troupes from abroad, they more often revealed its dire shortcomings. Her father, Antonio Martínez de Arredondo, was a veterinarian who disapproved of ballet. Not that she didn’t take personal advantage. Alonso … 1966 – Anna Pavlova Award of the University of Dance, Paris, 1970 – Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris, together with her company, 1974 – Order of Work of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, 1998 – National Prize for Dance from the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, 1998 – Gold medal from the Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid, 1999 – UNESCO Pablo Picasso Medal for her extraordinary contribution to dance, 1973 – Honorary doctorate in art from the, 1980 – Received an international homage in Paris, organized by, 1981 – Council of State of the Republic of Cuba gave her the Order Felix Varela, 1987 – Honorary doctorate in dancing art from the Superior Institute of Arts of Cuba, 1993 – Received the Commendation of Isabel Catholic Order, given by the, 1996 – Public recognition was given in her honor at the Scientific, Artistic, and Literary Ateneo of, 1997 – The Ballet Nacional de Cuba honored Alicia Alonso on the 50th anniversary of Theme & Variations, a ballet created by, 1998 – Art & Letters Order, Commander Degree, from the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France, Received the highest official awards from the countries of Mexico, the, 2011 – Honorary Citizen of Mérida (México) and, Holds membership in the Advisory Council to the Ministry of Culture in the National Committee of Writers and Artists Union of Cuba, Holds membership in the Collaborating Council of the Governing Boards of the, This page was last edited on 12 January 2021, at 01:47. The Ballet Theatre's Igor Youskevitch and her other partners quickly became expert at helping Alonso conceal her handicap. Died: October 17, 2019 ALICIA Alonso, who has died aged 98, was the revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of … In 1967 and 1971 she performed in Canada, where reviewers noted that Alonso was still the greatest ballerina of her time. Her vision difficulties helped inspire her interpretation of the role, wrote Barbara Steinberg in Dance Magazine.[14]. [10] Early in her career in Cuba, she danced under the name of Alicia Martínez. Human nature is inevitably complex and self-delusion one of its most recurrent characteristics, but Alonso’s fateful decision in 1959 to align with Castro was as much fired by idealism as any promise of personal advantage. After her breakthrough 1943 Ballet Theatre debut as Giselle, replacing an injured Alicia Markova, Alonso emerged as one of the most dazzlingly accomplished and versatile ballerinas of her generation. She remained a sought-after prima ballerina during this hectic time, dancing twice in Russia in 1952 and then producing and starring in Giselle for the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1953. Alonso’s work with George Balanchine and the School of American Ballet also connects her to City Ballet. The most famous is Alicia Alonso, a Cuban prima ballerina and choreographer who … Cuban ballet legend Alicia Alonso, who developed a new Latin-influenced style and taught well into her 90s despite being practically blind for most of her dancing career, died on Thursday. She was so talented that she gave her first public performance at the age of 11 in a At age eleven, she started training in classical ballet at Sociedad Pro-Arte Musical. Unable to comply fully, Alonso practiced with her feet, pointing and stretching to "keep my feet alive", as she put it. She also had the set designers install strong spotlights in different colors to serve as guides for her movements. Alicia Alonso, the nearly blind matriarch of Cuban ballet, on Friday denounced U.S. sanctions as an "inhuman and unjustifiable siege" that has … [4] In 1938, she made her debut in the U.S., performing in the musical comedies Great Lady and Stars In Your Eyes.[12]. The company was founded by Alicia Alonso, her husband Fernando and Fernando's brother Alberto on October 28, 1948 as Ballet Alicia Alonso. Both of these schools were annexed to the professional ballet company by 1956. She was an actress, known for Giselle (1965), Un retrato para Romeo y Julieta (1971) and Alicia Alonso y El Ballet Nacional de Cuba (1979). 1966 – Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris for her role in the ballet. Castro permitted Alonso to perform again in the United States in 1975 and 1976. She was an actress, known for Giselle (1965), Un retrato para Romeo y Julieta (1971) and Alicia Alonso y El Ballet Nacional de Cuba (1979). She was married to Pedro Simón Martínez and Fernando Alonso.She died on October 17, 2019 in Havana. HAVANA - 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. 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. She consented to a third procedure in Havana but this time was ordered to have bed rest for an entire year. She got married to a fellow ballet student, Fernando Alonso, at age 16. Alicia Alonso was born on December 21, 1920 in Havana, Cuba as Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martínez y del Hoyo. She gave birth to a daughter, Laura, in 1938, but continued her training at the School of American Ballet. Rather than dwell on what most would have assumed was the end of a budding dance career, Alonso imagined herself as Giselle, using her hands and fingers as proxies for legs and arms as she worked out what was to become one of her most legendary roles. Alicia Alonso | Photo: Courtesy of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She later founded and directed the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company, which eventually became the Cuban National Ballet. By choosing to align herself with Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Alonso automatically acquired enemies among those who did not. Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Alicia Alonso, la "prima ballerina" latinoamericana, cumple 90 años", "Fernando Alonso, a Founder of Cuban Ballet, Dies at 98", "Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the National Ballet of Cuba dies", "Cuba's Alicia Alonso: An International Ballet Legend", "Alicia Alonso to Be Honored by Ballet Theater", "MIRROR DANCE: Alicia Alonso and the National Ballet of Cuba", "BBC World Service - Witness, The First Lady of Cuban Ballet", "The reality behind the revolution - Cuba's communist rebirth gave Tomas Gutiérrez Alea the freedom to make the films he wanted - then he started to show the cracks in Castro's dream", "Horizontes: A glimpse of an almost mythical Cuba", "Ballet dancer Alicia Alonso dies aged 98", "Muere a los 98 años Alicia Alonso, la última gran leyenda del ballet", "Muere la bailarina cubana Alicia Alonso a los 98 años", "Bailarines que abandonaron Cuba podrán bailar de nuevo en el Festival de Ballet", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alicia_Alonso&oldid=999805872, Commandeurs of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Articles with Spanish-language sources (es), Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2019, Articles with unsourced statements from October 2017, Articles needing additional references from June 2017, All articles needing additional references, Articles with unsourced statements from December 2018, Articles needing additional references from December 2018, All articles with vague or ambiguous time, Vague or ambiguous time from December 2018, Wikipedia articles with PLWABN identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martínez y del Hoyo was born on the outskirts of Havana on Dec. 21, 1920. Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Copyright © 2021 Dance International Magazine. Just as her hope was returning, Alonso was injured when a hurricane shattered a door in her home, spraying glass splinters onto her head and face. Many Cubans have defected, most to escape the routine hardships of their everyday existence. She was promoted to principal dancer of the company in 1946 and danced the role of Giselle until 1948, also performing in Swan Lake, Antony Tudor's Undertow (1943), Balanchine's Theme and Variations (1947),[13] and in such world premieres as deMille's dramatic ballet Fall River Legend (1948), in which she starred as the Accused. She was best known for her lively, precise Giselle and for her sensual, tragic Carmen. She is most famous for her portrayals of Giselle and the ballet version of Carmen. It speaks to the power of imagination and force of will that propelled Alonso to international stardom and enabled her to make her Cuban homeland a major player in the world of ballet. When the bandages came off, she discovered the operation had not been completely successful. The Revolution offered exciting prospects, but they were clouded by uncertainty. [14], Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martínez del Hoyo. If Alonso had had no more than personal interest in mind, prudence might have suggested she remain where her career began, in New York. [26][27] She is survived by her second husband and her daughter, a grandson, Ivan Monreal-Alonso, who is a dancer and choreographer, and three great-granddaughters. Notoriously, Alonso would brook no opposition or competition and her friendship with the Castros gave her decisions the weight of imperial commands. The BNC’s dancers, however, have it relatively easy. In her early twenties, when she was afflicted with eye problems that left her almost blind, Alonso was obliged for months to remain motionless in a hospital bed. Alonso's desire to develop ballet in Cuba led her to return to Havana in 1948 to found her own company, the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company,[4][11] supported largely through her fame and earnings. Alicia Alonso. Her performances earned her the coveted Dance Magazine Award in 1958. She recalled, "I danced in my mind. There are few examples of blind professional ballerinas. In Alonso’s case the problem is exacerbated because the contours of her life from 1959 onward were highly politicized. Against doctor's orders, she went to the ballet studio down the street every day to practice. Alonso ruled the company with an authoritarian hand. She is best known for her portrayals of Giselle and the ballet version of Carmen. One is compelled to ask whether Alonso could imagine a future for Cuban ballet beyond her own existence. Founder of the International Ballet Festival of Miami and Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Pedro Pablo Peña, had since arriving in Miami in 1980 as a Cuban exile himself, helped numerous defecting Cuban dancers. It took courage and determination on an epic scale and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than the fearless and indomitable Alicia Alonso achieving this. Alonso as Giselle in 1977. But her ego turned her into a tyrant. Even then, the cult of personality continued. La Habana 15.XII.1931, No 12 – p. 9. She was Cuba’s uncrowned queen. [citation needed], Numerous books have been written on the ballerina, including Alicia Alonso: At Home and Abroad (1970), Alicia Alonso: The Story of a Ballerina (1979), Alicia Alonso: A Passionate Life of Dance (1984) and Alicia Alonso: First Lady of the Ballet (1993). Alicia Alonso, Cuban ballerina highly regarded for her convincing portrayals of leading roles in the great works of classical and Romantic ballet. Alicia Alonso By: Vanderbilt University, Center for Latin American Studies Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, located just about 100 miles south of Florida. She continued to serve as the director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and is quoted as saying, she will remain "in charge of the ballet until after she is dead". Alicia Alonso Alicia Alonso was a Cuban ballerina and choreographer whose company became what is now the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (Cuban National Ballet). After a second surgery was performed, doctors concluded Alonso would never have peripheral vision. Havana: She needs help sitting down, but no sooner has she done it than Alicia Alonso is tapping her foot three times and giving orders in a good-natured but authoritative tone. Alicia Alonso, a prima ballerina assoluta — the rarely bestowed highest honor in dance — and the creator of the acclaimed National Ballet of Cuba, died in Havana at 98. [21] As director and leading dancer of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, she taught many now notable dancers in Cuba and beyond. She arranged to travel to London to study with Vera Volkova. Two years later in 1950, the Alicia Alonso Academy of Ballet school was established to promote the talents of young Cuban dancers. Her dance studies began in childhood with flamenco lessons in Alicia Alonso was born in Havana, Cuba in 1921 and began studying ballet as a child. Alonso was born on 12 December, 1920 in Havana, Cuba. [17], When Fidel Castro took power from the Batista government on 1 January 1959, Castro vowed to increase funding to the nation's languishing cultural programs. 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