ROYAL BALLET TO PAY TRIBUTE TO ONE OF THE 20TH CENTURY’S GREATEST BALLERINAS
On Friday 15 October 2010, The Royal Ballet will pay tribute to Dame Alicia Alonso, Founder and Director of the Nacional Ballet de Cuba. Dame Alicia will celebrate her 90th birthday later in the year, and in a special acknowledgment of her outstanding contribution to the art-form, The Royal Ballet will dedicate the opening night of its first mixed programme of the 2010/11 season to her. The programme features Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, in which Alonso created a role for its premiere in 1947.
Born in Cuba in 1920, Alicia Alonso became one of the most famous ballerinas in Europe and the US, performing with the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera and the Bolshoi, amongst others. Despite being almost completely blind since her early 20s, Alonso was renowned as an intensely dramatic dancer, with incredible skill and technique. In 1959, she started the Nacional Ballet de Cuba, where she is still Director, and subsequently brought Cuban ballet to the attention of the world.
The links between the two companies are very strong: in July 2009, The Royal Ballet toured to Cuba, the first time a full ballet company had visited the country in 30 years. Demand for tickets was so high, that as well as performing to sold out houses, large screens were erected in Havana so that the crowds who gathered outside the theatre could watch the performances inside for free. Carlos Acosta, a Principal Guest Artist with The Royal Ballet, trained at the Cuban National Ballet School and has retained strong links with his native country, regularly making guest appearances with Alonso’s company.
Dame Alicia Alonso will travel to London for the special evening, which will also feature a world premiere by choreographer Kim Brandstrup, Frederick Ashton’s La Valse and Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams. Some of the Royal Ballet’s biggest names such as Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo, Marianela Nuñez, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg will be dancing for Alonso, in what will surely be a historic and memorable occasion.