Cuban ballet, training and international prestige

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Havana, May 31 (Prensa Latina) The first choreographies of Cuban Eduardo Blanco were born in a small space of the Gran Teatro de La Habana, today called Alicia Alonso, with an almost silent radio cassette player and only one hour for rehearsals.

The emblematic Havana stage was one of the headquarters in the 1990s of the National Ballet School, located since 2000 in an imposing mansion on Prado Street between Trocadero and Colon.

The institution accumulates more than 60 years of history in the preparation of figures of the dance art and dancers dedicated to teaching, directed first by maestro Fernando Alonso, one of the founders of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), and then by maître Ramona de Saa.

The academy trains teachers of that specialty on the island, members of the BNC and the Camagüey Ballet, in the central-eastern part of the country, and professionals from American and European nations.

From its classrooms came internationally renowned professionals such as Carlos Acosta, who was a student of teacher Ramona de Saa, considered one of the world stars of dance and the first black to assume the roles of prince in works performed by the Royal Ballet of London, United Kingdom.

Although the talented dancer was the son of a truck driver, raised in a troubled neighborhood of Havana called Los Pinos and with hobbies such as street break dancing and soccer, he entered elementary school at the age of 9 and faced the stereotypes of a macho environment and ‘opposed to ballet because it was a homosexual thing’, as he has said on several occasions.

The school’s worldwide recognition and success lies especially in overcoming prejudices associated with this specialty. The school has flouted racism; it has broken macho stereotypes and extended education, regardless of income, to children and adolescents with qualities and aptitudes.

From aspiring dancer to a choreographer of National Ballet of Cuba

‘I was told I couldn’t be a dancer because of my small stature. All my classmates were selected for the National Ballet. Some time later they called me at home: Alicia Alonso wants to talk to you, the person I spoke to assured me. It was then when that company received me as a choreographer’, says Blanco.

Previously, the teenager rehearsed in a space that the current artistic-pedagogical assistant director of the School, Martha Iris Fernández, lent him from four to five in the afternoon. Without having all the necessary conditions, he designed steps and postures of that specialty, in the recess between one subject and another of the career.

One day, Fernando Alonso arrived at the Alejo Carpentier Hall of the Gran Teatro. After watching a ballet by Eduardo Blanco entitled ‘Invitation to Dance’, with the music The Spectre of the Rose by the German composer Carl Maria von Weber, he said: ‘you must watch this child closely, trust his word’.

Born from a musician mother and a dancer father, Eduardo Blanco began his violin studies at the age of 9 at the José María Heredia Vocational School of Arts, in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.

‘ I didn’t like it, it tired me, I saw it as something static that made my neck ache and I was feeling the need to move my body. That’s why I escaped from the classes of that instrument and went to ballet lessons’, he admits.

Later, he arrived in Havana and, after several years of training, he transcended as the first recent graduate to join the BNC as a choreographer and the youngest creator of classical dance in the Caribbean nation.

Alicia Alonso and Eduardo Blanco

‘What I feel most is Alicia’s passing. She was not only a teacher or guide, she was my friend. She formed me, guided me and gave me the status I have today in my country. I am also the last choreographer she nominated within the BNC during her term as director of that company,’ recalls Eduardo Blanco.

Once when she was leaving the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, she says, holding her arm on one side and also accompanied by her husband Pedro Simón, a man pedaling a bicycle cab shouted at her: ‘Alicia, what’s up? She asked: ‘Who is greeting me?’ and after knowing the answer she said: `Look, that’s very nice’.

She admired that peculiarity of the Cuban, empirical knower of art and culture. I called her teacher with the confidence of a prodigal student and asked her for typical Cuban culinary dishes when I went to her house every Saturday to do the table work’, he evokes.

In addition to her multiple awards during choreographic events as a student and the creation of numerous pieces for the BNC and her classes at the National Ballet School, Blanco treasures experiences in foreign stages in Canada, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, mostly working with children.

You can choreograph to the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi or the first dancer of the Royal Ballet, but choreographing to a 5-year-old child who tells you in the middle of a show: teacher I have to pee, is a beautiful and difficult process’, concluded the Cuban artist.

Radio Grito de Baire

Webmaster Jorge Luis Lora Moran Digital Edition Radio Grito de Baire, Contramaestre, Cuba.

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