Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso
January 7, 2017
by Gay Morris
copyright © 2017 by Gay Morris
In the United States, Alicia Alonso is best remembered as an important ballerina of the 1940s and ‘50s, noted both as a sensitive dramatic dancer (Giselle was her most famous role) and a technical virtuosa; Balanchine made the notoriously difficult Theme and Variations for her. However, in her native Cuba, Alonso is far more than a ballerina. She is a major national figure, certainly the only woman in the country to hold such a position. Her name is enshrined on buildings and her image is found on posters scattered about Havana. The Cuban government named her a National Hero of Labor and in 2000 she received the Order of José Marti, a UNESCO award sponsored by Cuba and more often given to male political leaders. The Museo National de la Danza, consisting primarily of Alonso’s personal collection of documents, costumes, and art works, is in many ways a shrine to her, with an entire room devoted to her image depicted by some of the country’s most illustrious artists. Havana’s opera house is named the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso, and although in her 90s and blind, Alonso continues to hold the position of director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Photo: Gran Teatro de la Habana