Alicia Alonso Essay

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ALICIA ALONSO Cuba is known for Castro, Cuban cigars, and communism. But thanks to the talent of Alicia Alonso, it is also a world-renowned center for ballet. When Alonso was born in the early 1920s there was no ballet school or professional company in Cuba. Instead she traveled to New York City, Russia, Spain, and Monte Carlo to dance, eventually becoming arguably the most popular and admired ballerina in the 20th Century. Despite a lifelong struggle with failing vision and the political conspiracy that have defined post-revolutionary Cuba, Alonso returned to her beloved land and founded the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and created the island's first dance school. At the age of eight, when she took her first dance lesson, she recalled to, "I knew that I was going to love it more than anything in my life." That love has pushed her through six decades of dance. Born Alicia Ernestina de la Caridad del Cobre Martinez Hoya on December 21, 1921 (though some sources say it was 1917); Alonso was the youngest of four children. Her father, Antonio Martinez, was an officer in the Cuban army and her mother, Ernestina Hoya, was a homemaker. This was pre-revolutionary Cuba and the family enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in Havana. Alonso began dancing at a very young age. "When I was little, I'd move around whenever I heard music, maybe like Isa-dora Duncan, because I didn't know what dancing was. I dreamed of having long hair, so I'd dance around with towels on my head, pretending it was my hair streaming out behind me," she told Her first dance training occurred during her father's year-long military assignment in Spain. Her Spanish grandfather suggested she learn the local dance, so Alonso studied flamenco and even learned to play the casta-nets. At eight years old, she returned with her family to Cuba and took her first ballet

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