Alicia Alonso and Cuban ballet history

The photograph with the ballet dancer in the kitchen is titled „Lost hope on a pas de deux“. It was recognized by German Fotoforum Magazine in the category “People én detail” in April 2020


For most foreigners, Cuba’s dance scene has always been about salsa, son, and rumba. But to those in the know, the Caribbean island is one of the main stages of the world’s best ballet.

Ballet in Cuba really took off after iconic ballerina Alicia Alonso set up the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in 1948, now one of the most prominent dance companies in the world. Though the company faced some difficulties in its early years, it received much needed help from Fidel Castro and his revolutionary movement in 1959 after Alonso lent him her support. With the government authorities on her side, Alonso gained access to funding and promotion for the art of Cuban ballet.

As a result, the dance became incredibly popular on the island and ballet teachers from the Soviet Union started coming to Havana. Interestingly, this made the Cuban ballet repertoire very conservative over time, with 19th-century ballets dominating the scene. Due to this restrictive conservatism, several talented Cuban dancers have since left the island to explore their capabilities, with José Manuel Carreño and Carlos Acosta the two most prominent examples.

Every young girl aspires to be a ballerina. During their childhood and teen years, they spend most of their free time on aspiring their dream, but on the lucky few make it a reality. For all others, by the time they reached their 18th birthday they have lost all hope on a pas de deux.

Alicia died at the age of 98, days before the below photoshoot was taken in one of the last colonial homes in Cuba’s capital Havana.

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