COSTA MESA - The National Ballet of Cuba will be at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa where they will present "The Magic of Dance" June 15-19."The Magic of Dance" is a collection of excerpts from classical ballet works of the 19th century, including "Swan Lake," "Giselle," "Coppelia," "The Sleeping Beauty," "Don Quixote," "The Nutcracker" and "Gottschalk Symphony." The compilation program is choreographed by Alicia Alonso, the company's founder. Formed in 1948, the company occupies a prominent place in Hispanic and international ballet culture. The tiny island of Cuba has produced one of the foremost schools of ballet, which has trained all of the company's dancers. As National Ballet of Cuba's artistic director for more than six decades, Alonso has honed the company's style to perfection which has helped produce many of the world's top dancers. "Brilliant dancers seem to be the norm in the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, which regularly produces international stars," noted the New York Times. Free Preview Talks conducted by dance critic, columnist and writer Gary Smith will be held one hour prior to the performances on June 15, 16, 18 and 19. On June 17 at 6 p.m., a special encore presentation of a lecture-demonstration, Inside Dance, will be presented to give patrons the opportunity to learn more about the transformation of dance technique and style from classical to contemporary. Local dancers will perform excerpts and Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, Interim Associate Dean of the College of the Arts at California State University, Long Beach, will moderate the discussion. Preview events are free to all ticketholders. History The National Ballet of Cuba is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world and it occupies an important place in modern Latin-American culture. The artistic and technical rigor of its dancers, and the breadth and diversity of the choreographic aesthetic grants this company a notable place among the greatest dance institutions on the international stage. From the beginning, the artistic lineage of the National Ballet of Cuba was based on the classic and romantic dance tradition, while at the same time the company encouraged creative, contemporary work from choreographers. Already at this early stage, the production of complete classic works like Giselle, Swan Lake and Coppélia, and the renewal of the Russian ballets presented by Sergei Di?°ghilev's Ballet Russe, such as Petruschka and Afternoon of a Faun, was accompanied by new works from Cuban choreographers. The revolution in 1959 marked the beginning of a new era for Cuban ballet. That year, as part of the new cultural program, the company was renamed the National Ballet of Cuba, and has continued its artistic ascent ever since, enriching its repertory, promoting the development of new dancers, choreographers, professors and creative talents from related disciplines, such as graphic arts and music. In addition to its robust work in Cuba, where the National Ballet of Cuba has been successful in popularizing the art of ballet, the company has developed an annual program of international tours throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Alicia Alonso Alicia Alonso is a prominent figure in ballet whose choreographic rendering of great classic dances have gained international renown. She was born in Havana where she started her ballet training in 1931. She traveled to the United States to continue her studies at the School of American Ballet. Alonso's professional career began in 1938, on Broadway, with her debut in Great Lady and Stars in Your Eyes. She joined the American Ballet Caravan, the predecessor of the current New York City Ballet and in 1940, she became a member of American Ballet Theatre. During this time, she worked with choreographers Mikhail Fokine, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, Anthony Tudor, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille. Alonso also performed leading roles in world premieres of Undertow, Fall River Legend and Theme and Variations. In 1948, Alonso's interest in developing ballet in Cuba led her to organize the Ballet Alicia Alonso, now called the National Ballet of Cuba. After its founding, Alonso divided her time between American Ballet Theatre and her own company. Alonso's choreographic versions of the great classics have been performed by major companies such as the Opéra de Paris (Giselle, Grand Pas de Quatre and The Sleeping Beauty), Vienna Opéra, Naples San Carlo Ballet Theatre (Giselle), Prague Opéra (La Fille Mal Gardée), Teatro alla Scala (The Sleeping Beauty) and the Royal Danish Ballet (Don Quixote). Alonso has received numerous awards and distinctions including the Commendation of Isabel la Cat??lica Order, given by Spain's King Juan Carlos I; Gold Medal from the C??rculo de Bellas Artes of Madrid; France's Arts and Lettres Order - Commander Degree, Prix Benois de la Danse for her lifetime artistic contributions and the José Mart?? Order, the most important decoration of the Cuban Council of State. She was selected as a Republic of Cuba Ambassador by the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and recently became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Tickets to see the National Ballet of Cuba start at $17 and are available now at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787.
********** Published: May 12, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 4