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"Multiple" Giselle, Havana 12/29/1991


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On December 29 1991 an extraordinary event happened in La Habana. Mme. Alonso decided to celebrate the 150 anniversary of the premiere of Giselle, and for the occasion, a one time only performance was presented at the Grand Theater. That performance had the excitement and novelty of having all the then current Principals, men and women, dancing the roles of Giselle, Albertch and Myrtha simultaneously. This was done by making a special staging of the choreography, which was shared by all those wonderful stars of the 60's, 70's and 80's-(Josefina Mendez-RIP-, Loipa Araujo, Aurora Bosh, Rosario Suarez, Amparo Brito, Ofelia Gonzalez, Maria Elena Llorente and many others, as well as Mme. Alonso herself who, at 71, still danced many fragments, including an unforgettable mad scene). The Albretch was also shared by Principals: Gili, Vega, Salgado, etc…, It really was a truly magical night, and the crowd was so eager to get into the theater, even though it had been oversold, that a riot was created at the entrance, and the masses actually forced, broke off and opened the doors to just run to every single corner of space available inside. The police was called in to tried to stop this out of control situation, and efforts were made to get people out, but of course nobody moved. The performance was delayed until they realized that we were all staying.-(yes, I was among the instigators lacking a ticket). Finally the curtains went up, and magic was made. I remember the whole thing vividly, because it has been one of the most beautiful spectacles that I've ever seen in my entire life. Didn't matter that there was almost nothing to eat around those years, being the early 90's one of the worst chapters in the economical history of the island. We were transported to another world, that of charm and beauty. A film was made of this performance, and hasn't been released commercially. I just found many fragments of it on Youtube., and I feel that I have to share this magnetic performance.

(This is the first clip in a list of a dozen. Just keep clicking on the 1-12 order from the right side)

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Is this Madame Alonso in the middle of clip 10 ?

From clip 10 at first we see Miss Rosario Suarez-(the Divine Charin, ultimate CNB's technician of the 80's and 90's, now in exile in Miami)-on the solo entrance with her great developpes...then yes, there is Mme. Alonso who does the super fast batteries sequence, and finally we have Mme. Mendez-(RIP)-doing Giselle's "Minkus variation". Bravo!

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BTW, i was just watching for thousand times these clips-(oh, i pray they don't take them out anytime soon :thumbsup: ), and right at clip # 8, during Giselle's entrance from the grave, i couldn't help by smile at this comment made by one of the posters, which after watching many clips and entrances from many ballerinas, it was totally obvious to me...

"By going on pointe in the "Initiation" the CUBAN ballerina gives this difficult variation an added dimension into the wili sisterhood".

Again, Mme's is the one to be blamed for... :bow:

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Thanks, Cristian, for linking this historic event. I hope that everyone who reads this thread will take the time to watch the videos. There's much to feel and think about -- not least, the responses of the audience.

I'm up to clip #4: Alonso in the mad scene. She is astounding, reminding me of what it must have been like (no disrespect intended) to see Sarah Bernhardt playing Napoleon's teenage son when she was almost 60. With great artists -- the survivors, the tenacious ones -- the lines beween art and artifice sometimes dissolve. Not a movement or gesture is wasted.

The curtain calls following Alonso's death are worth the price of admission. There are at least 5 for the final tableau, during which Alonso does not seem to have moved at all, or scarcely to breathe. The audience goes crazy, reminding me of the wildly enthusiastic Italian opera audience in the film of E. M. Foster's Where Angels Fear to Tread. There ARE times -- and those of us who are older are lucky if we've been part of even one or two -- in which the distance between stage and audience ceases to exist. Emotion breaks the barrier. We become participants as much as the dancers. One remembers such performances always.

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And then there's a detail that i would like to share...Right at the time of the final bows-(clip # 11)-, when Mme. suddenly turns her back to the audience and offers her flowers along with a deep bow to her company, some of the ballerinas start to come forward to offer her their own bouquets-(Mme Mendez-RIP-the first, and then Miss. Martha Garcia). What happens then is obvious for those who knew how bad Mme.'s blindness was at the time. She doesn't realize of nothing of this-(she doesn't see it)-, and in an attempt to step forward has to be quickly rescued by a dancer so she doesn't trip on the flowers, and then she's whispered in the ear of what's happening...I was there..and it was moving to see this happening.

Brava, Alicia!

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