Ballet Nacional de Cuba

Ballet Nacional de Cuba, one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies, perform at Sadler’s Wells in September following the success of their sell-out performances in summer 2005. Ballet Nacional de Cuba is renowned for its unparalleled technique and impeccable style, taking classic Western ballets and invigorating them with vivid passion and Cuban-style drama.

The company has created more than 600 works and performed in more than 60 countries worldwide. In addition, they have hosted the biannual International Ballet Festival of Havana for over 40 years.

On this visit, Ballet Nacional de Cuba perform two programmes, both accompanied by a live orchestra. The UK premiere of Don Quixote, a celebrated work in the company’s repertoire sees the classic Russian ballet danced with the vigour and athleticism that the company are famed for. The second programme Magia de la Danza is a spectacular showcase which brings together extracts from Alonso’s versions of seven of the company’s most famous classical ballets including the Nutcracker, Coppelia and Swan Lake. This programme also includes an extract from the critically-acclaimed Giselle which was presented at Sadler’s Wells last year.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s indomitable founder, ballet legend Alicia Alonso started the company in 1948. Alonso’s extraordinary contribution to dance in Cuba has earned her the title of Goodwill Ambassador for UNESCO (2002) and one of her country’s highest civil decorations, the title of Heroine of Labour of the Republic of Cuba (1998). Born in Havana she began dancing in 1931. A student at the Pro-Arte School of Ballet, she later travelled to the United States, where she trained at the American School of Ballet. By 1939 she was dancing with New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater, later touring America and Europe as a principal dancer.

In 1948 she returned to Havana and founded the Alicia Alonso Ballet, and in 1950 she set up the National Academy of Dance and Drama. In 1959, Fidel Castro’s Revolutionary Government gave the Alicia Alonso Ballet its official and financial support, and the company’s name was changed to the Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

Ballet Nacional de Cuba’s first generation of dancers included Josefina Méndez, Aurora Bosch, Mirta Pla and Loipa Araújo (Guest Coach at The Royal Ballet since 2001), collectively known as “the four jewels of the National Ballet of Cuba”. Since then, through its rigorous training programme it has spawned and exported some of the world’s greatest male dancers, such as American Ballet Theater stars Fernando Bujones and Jose Manuel Carreño and closer to home Carlos Acosta, Principal Guest Artist at The Royal Ballet.

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