THE NATIONAL BALLET AT 75: The Bet for the Future

THE NATIONAL BALLET AT 75: The Bet for the Future
Fecha de publicación: 
24 September 2023
Imagen principal: 

The National Ballet of Cuba, the company founded by Alicia, Alberto, and Fernando Alonso, will celebrate its 75 anniversary this October 28. And CubaSí begins today a series of materials on the history, contemporaneity and challenges of the great Cuban group.

This first article, more than about the past we’ll talk about the future.

Tradition and contemporaneity: that is the determined commitment of the group now directed by prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés. Certainly, it’s a permanent challenge.

Invite renowned choreographers from the international stage; expand the thematic, stylistic and conceptual spectrum; promoting exchange with other schools and other ways of understanding and approaching dance... have been practices of the most recent seasons and creative processes. All without neglecting the great legacy of the founding teachers.

The National Ballet of Cuba can (and should) continue to be an international reference in the interpretation of the great classics of the nineteenth-century repertoire. And in that sense it’s necessary to work intensively with emerging dancers, with the youngest promotions of the National Ballet School, taking into account the challenges of permanent renewal of the casts.

We must insist on the mastery of styles, on the creative evolution of the technique - with the Cuban school as a solid base -, on the stage projection of  performers.

But beyond this historical responsibility, the emblematic company can (and must) expand its horizons much further, coherently inserting itself into the most current choreographic and interpretive dynamics.

In ballet, in all dance, there’s still a lot to do. And this dialectical dialogue with the world can mean a spur for dancers, for potential choreographers, for teachers... and for the public.

On the other hand, there are works in the historical repertoire that have not been staged for a long time and those deserve to return to the programs due to their values and their significance for the history of dance in Cuba.

Not Just to make some history: there are some of the creations of Alberto Méndez, Gustavo Herrera, and Iván Tenorio, authentic classics. On top of that we should add the lifelong commitment with great productions, which has distinguished the National Ballet of Cuba in the continent's panorama.

This year, for example, also marks the 80th anniversary of Alicia Alonso's debut in one of the characters that marked her extraordinary artistic career: Giselle. Alicia's version of this essential play is one of the jewels of the CNB; becomes a workhorse.

And obviously, each nineteenth-century classic presents challenges for the cast and its rehearsals, which go beyond mere technical demands. The preservation of a style, which has assumed the peculiarities of the Cuban school of ballet, is a titanic effort in times of sudden and extemporaneous renewals of the corps de ballet.

You have to deal with all. And we cannot forget the need to offer spaces to emerging choreographers, even those who explore paths of certain experimentation.

The good news is that the National Ballet of Cuba does not stop working: it’s the company that programs the most seasons in the year, and the stylistic variety is evident. On October 28, when he celebrates its 75th birthday, he will certainly receive the tribute of the public and cultural institutions. But the greatest festival of dance is dance itself. And ballet requires enthusiasm and commitment every day.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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