Feature: Unique expo pays homage to legendary Cuban dancer, beckons Havana ballet festival

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-21 12:49:03|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Raimundo Urrechaga

HAVANA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- In one of the halls of Havana's Grand Theater on Saturday, 39 canvases, four installations, a bronze sculpture and three creations of mixed media on resin and fabric started their display.

They were brought there by Nelson Dominguez, a renowned Cuban painter, for a show to pay homage to the island's legendary dancer Alicia Alonso, who is going to be 98 years old next year.

Dominguez entitled his unique exhibition "Mi amiga Alicia" (My friend Alicia), which would last till December 2019 when Alonso becomes 89 years old.

"Alicia Alonso means the maintained essence of the spirit, the development of dance and art in general. The great teaching that she has exercised throughout her career will continue to be a milestone as she has become one of the top international figures in the world of ballet," Dominguez told Xinhua.

For the Cuban painter, the slenderness, greatness and ductility of one of the most acclaimed exponents of Latin American dance throughout history were inspirational reasons for more than a decade.

"She is like a rope that can be rolled up, stretched, put into a spiral. For me it is an artistic example of how all dance movements can be perfectly executed," he added.

The exhibition is structured in four sections in order to show different aspects of the life of the prima ballerina assoluta.

Alonso can be seen in her facets as an artist, meticulous teacher, woman and representative of Cuban culture.

Dominguez said that the exposition also opened on Saturday to celebrate the island's National Culture Day, a date of great significance in the Caribbean nation.

"Alicia for me and for all Cubans is a symbol of dedication, passion, success and continued nonconformity," he said.

Dominguez believed the iconic Cuban dancer must be presented while still alive with all the gratitude local artists and institutions have for her dedication to massively spreading ballet throughout the country.

"She achieved, in a nation where culture was for high-income classes, to make ballet a popular and understandable art and created a distinct Cuban ballet school that today is recognized worldwide," he said.

His remarks were echoed by Marta Martinez, a 69-year-old Havana woman, who told Xinhua that she was fortunate to see Alonso dance and today took her granddaughter to the exhibition as she is enrolled in a classical ballet school.

"The exhibition is beautiful, it shows Alicia's career and life and that is very important for the Cuban nation. She means a lot to everyone, especially to the new generations of dancers who get excited every time they see her because they are aware of her greatness," she said.

Martinez was accompanied by her granddaughter, Adriana Montero, a 7-year-old girl who for three years has regularly attended vocational workshops for children at the "Fernando Alonso" National School of Ballet in Havana.

There, together with hundreds of students, she has learned not only the positions and techniques of classical dance, but also the importance of defending her country's culture through art.

"I would like when I grow up to be famous like her. I am excited to dance and Alicia Alonso inspires me because she had great skills," said Adriana.

The exhibition is a preamble of the 26th Havana International Ballet Festival, one of the most important dance events in the world, which will be held from Oct. 28 to Nov. 6.

This year the festival will mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the National Ballet of Cuba.

The event, launched in 1960 by Alonso and institutionalized since 1974 on a biannual basis, is one of the oldest and most famous in the world of dance.

Throughout these 58 years of history, dancers from 61 countries of the five continents have performed in Havana.