On October 17, 2019 Alicia Alonso, the great Cuban prima ballerina and choreographer whose life and dance has left a significant impact on different generations of ballet artists, died at the age of 98. Yolanda Correa, prima ballerina of Staatsballett Berlin, in dedication to Alicia’s memory is recalling the time of her work with Alicia.
“Alicia Alonso was my director and ballet master for more than 10 years. I had the fortune to have her and work with her in the studio for many ballets. The classics but also creations of her own. She liked good, clean and virtuous technique but the most important was the character, the acting, to tell the story. She would pay attention not just to the principals but everyone else in this matter. She thought it was important for everyone taking part in a performance to do well at a required level”.
The way she taught
“Alicia was an incredible Giselle. And all she knew she passed to us. I remember first as a corps de ballet dancer, she had a story and a character for each one of us to play in the first act of ‘Giselle’. I thought that was amazing - to have the dancing and to be able to act as well rather than just standing without knowing what to do. Then, when it was my time to have my debut as Giselle, I had the privilege to have her and the main ballet masters of the company working with me for this character. It was heaven.
Alicia was an example of dedication and discipline. Her passion for Dance was enormous. Always working and no excuses to make. Her versions of the ballets were always the most difficult ones, but, of course, we wouldn’t dare to complain or to say it was too difficult cause she had danced them before us and, my God, what a technique she had”.
Favourite roles of Alicia
I love her Giselle and her Black Swan. And her “Theme and Variations” by Balanchine. I feel proud of being part of the company under her direction and lucky and honoured for having the opportunity of working with her.
Her poor eyesight
We never talk about her sight conditions with the press. She never did. She didn’t like it. So we never do it as well.
Alicia’s vision of Giselle
She wanted Giselle to be alive, although she had a heart condition. Alicia used to say, ‘When one is sick, has to be inside all the time and knows life might be shorter and death could come soon, then you live every moment intensely’. She liked Giselle to be free like a bird, expressing that freedom within the dancing, not to be too shy about her love for Albrecht. Because she believed in that love like in nothing else. Sometimes we tempt to be a bit too soft and shy and just too quiet when playing this character when she is life, love, freedom, courage and hope. That’s what Alicia used to say to us.