Political Prisoners of the Empire  MIAMI 5     

     

C U L T U R E

Havana.  October 28, 2014

The Cuban National Ballet:
Sixty-six years of glory

Miguel Cabrera

Sixty-six years ago, on October 28, today’s Cuban National Ballet was born, known then as the Alicia Alonso Ballet, bearing the name of its illustrious and principal inspiration, who took on the historic mission of launching a professional company in our country, which would take this form of dance out of the elitist framework in which it had been developing, and make it a truly Cuban cultural tradition.

The company faced a fierce struggle in the period between its founding and 1956, during which began its fight with the Batista dictatorship, which attempted to use it as an agent of propaganda. The company received well deserved admiration and respect from all Cubans, for its illustrious objectives and the bravery of its principal founders - Alicia and Fernando Alonso – who knew how to deal with the misinterpretations and aggressions of the misgovernments of the era. Despite this, the novel collective developed 23 founding principals, including choreographic creativity, pedagogy and mass dissemination of ballet.

Since its debut, Cuba’s first professional ballet company, demonstrated a commitment to enriching Cuban dance culture, a feat which it successfully achieved by developing a broad choreographic repertory, including the most important ballets of the 18th century, the greatest romantic-classical traditions of the 14th, fueled by a desire for contemporary creation, incorporating the most diverse themes.

A milestone in this period was the creation, in 1950, of the Alicia Alonso Ballet Academy, responsible for training the first generation of professional Cuban ballerinas and serving as a pedagogical laboratory for the now globally recognized artistic phenomena – the Cuban School of Ballet.

In regards to its dissemination work, the numerous free or low cost public performances, in open spaces around Havana and the interior of the country, such as the Plaza de la Catedral, the Anfiteatro de La Habana, and in particular those performed at the University Stadium, where it received the unwavering support of the Federation of University Students (FEU), enabled the seed of ballet to be planted in the most diverse spaces across the island. As Alicia wisely commented in her historic Public Letter to the director of the so called National Institute of culture in 1956, ballet can not die, because it has been sown in the hearts of the people.

The triumph of the revolution opened a new chapter in national culture, enabling Cuban ballet to realize great historic achievements. Law 812 of the Revolutionary Government, signed by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, definitively guaranteed the company’s existence, offering it material and spiritual support in order to carry out its work. Over these 66 years of continued labor which we are currently celebrating, the Cuban National Ballet has managed to occupy a prominent place in national culture and the international dance movement, as the greatest example of a new school.

A total of 199 tours, including performances in 61 countries across five continents, presentations in more than 100 towns and cities in the island: the creation of a vast and versatile repertory of 727 works, the majority world premieres, has been a fruitful endeavor by the company which has brought together the country’s most prestigious, composers, designers, playwrights, and technicians; organized talks, conferences and didactic shows in work places, factories, educational and military institutions from Mantua to Maisí; radio and television programs, book editions and specialized publications, dozens of awards from the most important high-level competitions in Europe, Asia and the Americas; more than 1,000 cultural, social and political distinctions, both national and international and enthusiastic recognition by global critics, are all illustrative of its creative value.
 

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