Monday, May 30th 2011 - 02:52 UTC

National Ballet of Cuba and the legendary Alicia Alonso on US month long tour

The National Ballet of Cuba plans to deliver a “message of peace” when it starts its first United States tour in eight years, said renowned director, Alicia Alonso. The visit is expected to last one month.

Alicia Alonso began her career with the New York based American Ballet Theatre (Photo AFP)

“It will be wonderful to visit again... and bring to the United States our art, and a message of peace and love,” the dance legend told reporters. Alonso, who is 90 years old, continues to direct the troupe even though she is nearly blind and has trouble walking.

The group will begin its tour on Tuesday with six performances in Washington; followed by New York, Costa Mesa, California and Los Angeles. The National Ballet also plans to visit Russia in late summer and Spain before the end of the year.

The Cuban company will perform “The Magic of Dance,” which includes passages from ballet classics such as “Giselle,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake,” and “Don Quixote.”

The New York-based American Ballet Theatre and members of the New York City Ballet performed before ecstatic audiences in Havana in November, creating good vibes that Alonso said she hopes to duplicate.

“All the people were very happy, so it was a very different change,” she said of the performances by the U.S. companies. ”I hope this time we're going there and it's going to be exactly the same -- happiness (for) all of us“ she added.

She said this latest trip was not about politics, but art, which transcends national boundaries and disputes.

”Actually, dancers belong to the world. The artist is the best thing for humanity; he has no frontier. He has only one (goal) -- happiness of the people,“ Alonso said. She added “governments… that is another thing”.

US President Obama has said he wanted to ”recast“ U.S.-Cuba relations, but they have warmed only modestly under his administration. Cultural exchanges on the other hand have blossomed as Obama took steps to encourage ”people-to-people” contact between the countries.

In May, 2010 Alonso received a tribute from the Metropolitan Opera House for her role in the National Ballet of Cuba, which she founded and has directed since 1948. Before that she performed for the ABT from 1941 to 1948 which saw her become a world class dancer performing ‘Giselle’.

Cultural exchanges between Cuba and the United States are rare because of the economic embargo imposed on the island by the United States since 1962, and travel restrictions in place between the two countries.
 

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