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kbarber

RIP Alicia Alonso

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Oh, no. Rest in Peace.

Adding a day later:  The international reaction has been, uh...interesting. I suppose that there are very few us are around who saw her dance live. I saw her Giselle, Carmen Suite and Grand Pas de Quatre when the BNC was on tour in Spain, around 1980. Age 60 but still fantastic. Esquivel was her partner. But that was a long time ago!

Edited by Roberta

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An extraordinary figure in the history of ballet--with a great legacy. May she rest in peace.

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6 months before Balanchine created THEME AND VARIATIONS for Ballet Theatre with Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch, DANCE MAGAZINE featured them on its cover in the company's then 4-year-old staging of his APOLLO, with designs by Karinska.

both ballets, as it turns out, are in ABT's repertory in the month of Alonso's death.

(the muses alongside Alonso's Terpsichore are Nora Kaye as Polyhymina and Barbara Fallis as Calliope)

904193527_!!!!DS47.thumb.jpg.d3a91f73858b707b546d1b5635241e67.jpg

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What a great photo!  (And a glimpse into what else was playing in dance in May 1947.)

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16 hours ago, Drew said:

An extraordinary figure in the history of ballet--with a great legacy. May she rest in peace.

Signing on to this, except to say she'd probably rather be dancing than resting, and I hope she can see forever, as the song goes.

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7 minutes ago, dirac said:

[...] she'd probably rather be dancing than resting, and I hope she can see forever, as the song goes.

Absolutely!

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My formative ballet years I spent watching Alonso's way into her company.  The dual, always controversial way she was perceived by both her audience and her peers.  I saw the self imposed enclosure she placed on the troupe during the cold war era, the closed doors she buil in front of her most talented dancers,...the way the almost extinguished word "defection" was, and is, still in used when in reference to Cuban dancers wanting to break free from the company and the country.   I saw how many of the dancers were blessed by her politically powerful hand-(Carreno, Acosta)- and how others were virtually erased from the history of the company-(the Feijoo sisters, the Sarabia brothers).  And I saw how bitter she could get if the 'Most Beloved and Most Capable Prima" title was was being jeopardized from her hands-(which it was, by means of the great Rosario Suarez, whom Alonso made sure would not succeed on the attempt).

And i saw wonderful productions and ballets...rarities I now know were and are there because of her absolutism in regards with repertoire.  The mantra was "It will be danced as I danced in in 1950 at BT".  End of the story.  And well, that way I could see Les Sylphides, staged by her and Alberto Alonso by means of their recollections of the mid century stagings they both had danced in in BT and BRdMC, staged by Fokine himself.  And the same with  many other ballets, imported carbon copy of how they were being danced under their still around choreographers. Among them.

Graduation Ball. Lichine.

Les Sylphides. Fokine.

Petroushka. Fokine.

Nutcracker. Fedorova.

Grand Pas de Quatre. Dolin.

Giselle. Dolin.

Apollo. Balanchine.

T&V. balanchine.

Le Combat. William Dollar

Fall River Legend. Tudor.

Jardin aux Lilacs. Tudor

R&J. Tudor.

La Fille Mal Gardee. Nijinska/Hertel.

Three Virgins and a Devil. de Mille

Swan Lake. Mary Skeaping

And some others, either complete on on fragments that she was able to stage from memory, as with Balanchine's Waltz Academy and Massine's Aleko.

Now, after she's gone...I really wonder what fate will this stagings take.  It is not a secret that many perceived this unmovable versions as part of the iron hand she directed the company with, and would very much get rid of them.  I only hope it doesn't happen.

Alonso was very controversial.  She was both at the investment ceremony of General Batista in 1953, and her company was subsidized by him up until it wasn't anymore.  She then dissolved it and didn't come back to Cuba until 1960, when she made sure she was going to be subsidized again.  And she was...and the rest we all know very well.  She became one of the most recognizable faces of Castrism.  Online opinions on her likeness and worthlessness are primarily divided in between Castro followers and Miami exiles. 

RIP nonetheless.

 

Image result for alicia alonso batista 1955

 

Image result for alicia alonso batista 1955

 

 

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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8 hours ago, canbelto said:

So as I spend another Friday at home resting an ankle that somehow is healing on its own time (that is to say, verrry slowly), I decided to find some Edwin Denby and Arlene Croce accounts of her dancing and compare it to Alicia Alonso videos. Hope you guys enjoy it.

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2019/10/alicia-alonso-written-word-vs-video.html

Greetings, Canbelto, I hope your recovery is speedy. Thank you for this, it will be great Sat morning reading with a cup of coffee. 

Rest in Peace, Ms. Alonso. 

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14 hours ago, canbelto said:

So as I spend another Friday at home resting an ankle that somehow is healing on its own time (that is to say, verrry slowly), I decided to find some Edwin Denby and Arlene Croce accounts of her dancing and compare it to Alicia Alonso videos. Hope you guys enjoy it.

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2019/10/alicia-alonso-written-word-vs-video.html

Thank you for those, canbelto, and a speedy recovery for you. 

There is a museum of ballet in Havana, which of course is dedicated to her. I have a friend that told me that there is a private videography of her that has films from the 50's, including a full T&V. I believe that was the base for subsequent -( Balanchine trust non approved, non licensed)- stagings there when she wasn't reliable anymore due to her blindness and old age. 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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Here is a video of the CNB's Apolo. It might be the closest we'll ever get to the original Ballet Russes production.

 

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20 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

Thank you for those, canbelto, and a speedy recovery for you. 

There is a museum of ballet in Havana, which of course is dedicated to her. I have a friend that told me that there is a private videography of her that has films from the 50's, including a full T&V. I believe that was the base for subsequent -( Balanchine trust non approved, non licensed)- stagings there when she wasn't reliable anymore due to her blindness and old age. 

I went to Havana in the summer of 2018 and went on one of those tours with a dude in a horse and buggy. He took us past the CNB theatre and spoke about Alicia Alonso. It's obvious how much she meant to the Cuban people.

And also ... one of my former co-workers and a friend of mine is actually related to her. They are all painters, so the artistic gene in the Alonso family lives on.

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

I went to Havana in the summer of 2018 and went on one of those tours with a dude in a horse and buggy. He took us past the CNB theatre and spoke about Alicia Alonso. It's obvious how much she meant to the Cuban people.

And also ... one of my former co-workers and a friend of mine is actually related to her. They are all painters, so the artistic gene in the Alonso family lives on.

Well... yeah. I guess she's seen as a National monument. Although I sort of agree with atm11, who long time ago wrote that she was considered back then an American ballerina, a BT product. When she went to Russia in 58-59 she did so as a western ballet ambassador, considered back then "the first American ballerina to dance in Russia". Cuba had seen her only sporadically during her 20 years in NYC, and they really got a hold of her once she negotiated with Castro the conditions for her return in 1960.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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Coppelia, USA. 1957

Giselle. Russia 1958.

Grand Pas de Quatre. US 1960.

Swan Lake. La Habana 1961.

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

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The funeral was today.

Quote

People of all generations pass this Saturday in front of her coffin, some lean out, others simply put one hand on the coffin and with the other tears wipe away, try not to see her, prefer to remember her vital, energetic, as she was always seen. Many kiss their fingers before touching the sarcophagus, Alicia awakens that love, even in those who did not know her personally.
 

 

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A video of Alicia Alonso's funeral, her coffin wrapped in Giselle's veil and sent off by the dancers and a large crowd of people. Very touching. 

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So many people lining the route.  Yes, very touching.

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15 hours ago, MadameP said:

So many people lining the route.  Yes, very touching.

Let's not forget this are officially prepared ceremonies. People are pulled out of work, students are pulled out of classes and participation is mandatory.  Alonso was indeed much celebrated , but also much condemned , politically speaking. Of course, only the laurels will be shown.

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On 10/17/2019 at 1:28 PM, Roberta said:

Oh, no. Rest in Peace.

Adding a day later:  The international reaction has been, uh...interesting. I suppose that there are very few us are around who saw her dance live. I saw her Giselle, Carmen Suite and Grand Pas de Quatre when the BNC was on tour in Spain, around 1980. Age 60 but still fantastic. Esquivel was her partner. But that was a long time ago!

I guess I am one of the many few who saw her in her prime --1940's---I wrote about that time on my blog, "Ruminations" which is available on this site.

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I took the liberty of pulling up that blog entry, atm711 - I believe this is it.

Quote

As to the critics (Walter) Terry found a 'Latin passion' and a 'peasant lustiness' in Alonso's Act I---two qualities I never saw. Passion? Lustiness? No. A sweet yearning for one she loved? Yes.

In writing of Alonso's performance in 1946 Edwin Denby said---"Alonso bows 'in character' (Act II) are unfortunate". I find this puzzling coming from Denby. It is true, she did hold on to the character and mood while taking a bow; people who saw her performance from the wings said she always remained in character and mood even when she was out of the public view. It was a small detail in the beauty of her Act II.

 

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