37 Facts About Alicia Alonso


Alicia Alonso is best known for her portrayals of Giselle and the ballet version of Carmen.


Alicia Alonso was born "on the outskirts" of Havana in 1920, the fourth child of Antonio Martinez Arredondo, lieutenant veterinarian of the army, and Ernestina del Hoyo y Lugo, a dressmaker.


Alicia Alonso performed publicly for the first time on 29 December 1931, aged 11.


Progress in her lessons came to an abrupt halt in 1937 when Alicia Alonso fell in love with a fellow ballet student, Fernando Alicia Alonso, whom she married at age 16.


Alicia Alonso gave birth to a daughter, Laura, in 1938, but continued her training at the School of American Ballet.


Alicia Alonso arranged to travel to London to study with Vera Volkova.


Unable to comply fully, Alicia Alonso practiced with her feet, pointing and stretching to "keep my feet alive", as she put it.

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Alicia Alonso consented to a third procedure in Havana but this time was ordered to have bed rest for an entire year.


Alicia Alonso's husband sat with her every day, using their fingers to teach her the great dancing roles of classical ballet.


Just as her hope was returning, Alicia Alonso was injured when a hurricane shattered a door in her home, spraying glass splinters onto her head and face.


When her doctor saw this, he cleared Alicia Alonso to begin dancing, figuring if she could survive an explosion of glass, dancing could do no harm.


Alicia Alonso traveled back to New York City in 1943 to begin rebuilding her skills.


Alicia Alonso accepted and gave such a performance that the critics immediately declared her a star.


Alicia Alonso was promoted to principal dancer of the company in 1946 and danced the role of Giselle until 1948, performing in Swan Lake, Antony Tudor's Undertow, Balanchine's Theme and Variations, and in such world premieres as deMille's dramatic ballet Fall River Legend, in which she starred as the Accused.


The Ballet Theatre's Igor Youskevitch and her other partners quickly became expert at helping Alicia Alonso conceal her handicap.


Alicia Alonso had the set designers install strong spotlights in different colors to serve as guides for her movements.


Alicia Alonso knew, for instance, that if she stepped into the glow of the spotlights near the front of the stage, she was getting too close to the orchestra pit.


Alicia Alonso commuted between Havana and New York to recruit the world's best teachers to train her new students.


Alicia Alonso remained a sought-after prima ballerina during this hectic time, dancing twice in Russia in 1952 and then producing and starring in Giselle for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1953.


Alicia Alonso was the first dancer of the Western Hemisphere to perform in the Soviet Union, and the first American representative to dance with the Bolshoi and Kirov Theaters of Moscow and Leningrad respectively in 1957 and 1958.


Alicia Alonso staged versions of Giselle, Pas de Quatre, and Sleeping Beauty for the Paris Opera.


Alicia Alonso staged Giselle at the Vienna State Opera and the San Carlo Theater of Naples, Italy, as well as La Fille Mal Gardee at the Prague State Opera, and Sleeping Beauty at La Scala.


Alicia Alonso worked with the Ballet Russe until 1959, during which time she performed in a 10-week tour of the Soviet Union, dancing in Giselle, the Leningrad Opera Ballet's Path of Thunder, and other pieces.


Alicia Alonso's performances earned her the coveted Dance Magazine Award in 1958.


Alicia Alonso returned to Cuba and in March 1959 received $200,000 in funding to form a new dance school, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, along with a guarantee of annual financial support.

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Alicia Alonso has since described receiving a message from Castro in 1958 sent from the Sierra Maestra inviting her to head the company upon the triumph of the July 26 Movement.


Alicia Alonso officially founded the school in 1960, and within several years her dancers were winning international dance competitions.


Alicia Alonso's company continued to build its powers and achievements in both Eastern and Western Europe.


In 1967 and 1971 she performed in Canada, where reviewers noted that Alicia Alonso was still the greatest ballerina of her time.


Castro permitted Alicia Alonso to perform again in the United States in 1975 and 1976.


Alicia Alonso danced solos in Europe and elsewhere well into her 70s.


Alicia Alonso continued to serve as the director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and is quoted as saying, she will remain "in charge of the ballet until after she is dead".


Alicia Alonso's sister, Blanca Maria "Cuca" Martinez del Hoyo, was born in 1918.


Alicia Alonso married Fernando Alonso in 1937, when she was 16.


Alicia Alonso died at Centro de Investigaciones Medico Quirurgicas in Havana, Cuba, on 17 October 2019 from a health complication at the age of 98.


Alicia Alonso is survived by her second husband and her daughter, a grandson, Ivan Monreal-Alonso, who is a dancer and choreographer, and three great-granddaughters.


Alicia Alonso's funerals were held at the Gran Teatro de La Habana named after her.