Posted on October 11, 2010
Alicia Alonso celebrates her 90th birthday this year. The Royal Ballet pays tribute to the Cuban ballerina on October 15, dedicating the opening night of its first mixed programme this season to her.
The programme features Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, whose ballerina role was danced by Alonso at its premiere in 1947. Born in Cuba in 1920, Alonso had an international career as a ballerina, despite becoming almost completely blind in her twenties. In 1959, she founded the Nacional Ballet de Cuba, where she is still director. In July 2009, The Royal Ballet toured to Cuba, the first time a full ballet company had visited the country in 30 years. Alonso will travel to London for the Royal Ballet opening night, which will also feature the world premiere of Kim Brandstrup’s Invitus Invitam, Frederick Ashton’s La Valse and Kenneth MacMillan’s Winter Dreams.
UPDATE: The performance opened with a speech from Monica Mason, director of The Royal Ballet. Speaking from the stage, she introduced Alicia Alonso, prompting a standing ovation from the Covent Garden audience. After Theme and Variations, Sergei Polunin and Carlos Acosta led Alonso onstage, to be greeted with a second ovation.
Picture: Tamara Rojo and artists of The Royal Ballet in Theme and Variations. Photograph by Johan Persson, courtesy of The Royal Opera House.