Born on December 21, 1920, in Redención, the popular neighborhood of Marianao, in a modest family made up of Antonio Martínez Arredondo, a veterinary lieutenant in the army, and Ernestina del Hoyo y Lugo, a refined dressmaker, the illustrious dancer found in dance from a very early age the vocation that would guide her entire life.
Her stellar route, initiated in the School of Ballet of the society Pro-Arte Musical of Havana, in 1931, was forced to take new paths when having to march abroad for the low level, the prejudices and the elitist character that faced the ballet in the Cuba of that time.
To trace her professional artistic orbit is a cyclopean task, since it includes from the musical comedies of Broadway, the Ballet Caravan, the Ballet Theatre of New York, the Ballet of Washington and the Russian Ballet of Montecarlo, to her colossal triumphs as guest star of the most relevant companies, festivals and galas of that artistic genre in the whole world.
Her exceptional status as an assolute prima ballerina was not due to a capricious hierarchical reputation, but to the dominance of a vast repertoire of 134 titles that encompassed the great works of the Romantic-Classical tradition and creations of contemporary choreographers.
When on November 28, 1995, at the Teatro Massini in the Italian city of Faenza, she stopped her career as an interpreter, she had already managed to establish a record that was difficult to match, not only because of the length of time she was on the tips, but also because of the level of excellence with which she did it.
But Alonso’s greatness lies not only in having represented us triumphantly in 65 countries, receiving the most thunderous ovations, impossible to count, from Helsinki to Buenos Aires, from New York to Tokyo or Melbourne, but also in having put all the honors received at the service of her homeland, among them the 266 international prizes and distinctions, 225 of national character and the 69 choreographic creations -romantic, classic and contemporary- that she has created, reverting them as fruits of the work that she has always seen as a modest contribution not only to her culture, but to the world dance culture.
-Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Havana, the Superior Institute of Art of Cuba, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, and the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.
-Order “El Águila Azteca” (The Aztec Eagle), conferred by the Mexican State in 1982
-Command of the Order Isabel la Católica, awarded by the King of Spain in 1993.
-She created the Dance Foundation that bears her name, and the Alicia Alonso Higher Institute of -Dance attached to the Rey Juan Carlos University.
-Honorary Member of the Association of Stage Directors of Spain (ADE).
-Gold Medal of the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, in 1998.
-Title of National Heroine of the Work of the Republic of Cuba.
-José Martí Order, highest decoration granted by the State Council of the Republic of Cuba.
-In 2002 she was appointed Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
-She was invested in Paris as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
-In 2003, the President of France conferred on her the rank of officer of the Legion of Honour.
-In 2005, she received the Irene Lidova Prize in Cannes for her entire artistic career.
-From the hands of the King and Queen of Spain, she received the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts awarded by the government of that country.
-In 2012 she received the Alba de las Artes Award from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
-In 2017 she received the title of World Ambassador of Dance awarded by UNESCO.
More than half a century ago when she returned to our country full of foreign honors, she did not hesitate to declare:
“All my hopes and dreams consist in not going out into the world again representing another country, but carrying our own flag and our own art. My desire is that there is no one who doesn’t shout: “Bravo for Cuba”, when I dance. If this were not the case, if that dream could not come true, sadness would be the reward for my efforts.
That patriotic position led her to found, together with Fernando and Alberto Alonso on October 28, 1948, the now National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), and in 1950 the Ballet Academy that bore her name and had the historical task of forming the first generation of dancers within the technical, aesthetic and ethical principles of today’s world-renowned Cuban ballet school.
For 71 years, especially after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, she was able, with a firm hand, to place the BNC among the most prestigious companies in the world, to establish an educational system that today covers the entire island and that is the guarantee of Cuban ballet, as well as to stimulate an internationalist cooperation movement that in the field of ballet Cuba has extended to almost fifty countries in America and Europe, Asia and Africa.
She is the Alicia guide and mentor, who with her agglutinating gift was able to summon in Havana, in 26 International Ballet Festivals, the most famous personalities of dance, in a party of art and friendship. And she is also the Alicia that we have seen give the best of her teaching, the same on stages of the highest prosapia as on rustic stages, in public squares, factories, schools and military units, aware that the people, whatever they are, are always ascended and never descended.
Those who had the privilege of being by her side, also knew the extraordinary human being in her, who by courage and iron discipline was never defeated by physical breakdowns, vicissitudes or misunderstandings.
This was our Alicia, who, bathed in cosmopolitanism, longed to hear the songs of our roosters, to taste the smell of the saltpeter of her Havana Malecón, to value the butterfly and the coral as the most exquisite flotes, or to be fascinated by the scientific advances and the mysteries of the cosmos.
“A tenacious, frenetic, heroic impetus – shot against illness and against time – towards untiring perfection,” as Juan Marinello aptly defined her.
(Taken from cubadebate)