Thursday, November 1, 2007

Alicia Alonso: The Cuban Sphinx

Babalú newbie Alberto de la Cruz hits a home run with his post on prima ballerina assoluta (obsoleta is more like it) Alicia Alonso, who has just been placed at the entrance of "Monsieur Castro's Wax Museum" so that she can denounce the U.S. trade embargo as a "siege" while Culture Minister Abel Prieto announces plans for celebrating the 60th anniversary of Cuba's National Ballet (60th anniversary? Yes, it was founded before the Revolution, as was Alonso's star and legend).

Alonso is truly as wretched a human being as ever lived upon the earth and was a mentor to Castro not just a groupie. In the 1960s she fed her "children" (the male dancers she trained as arm-rests) to the UMAP concentration camps. Still, she is lavishly praised when she performs in this country by the very people who are hailing the $11 million fine imposed by a jury on a Christian Church that opposes homosexuality and exercises its constitutional right to protest it peacefully if in poor taste.

Twenty years ago, I wrote that it was inconceivable that Alonso could still be performing in her seventh decade. Now she is in her ninth, and nothing is inconceivable to me anymore. They might well embalm her and keep her on stage forever. Certainly, she won't be any less animated than she is now.

I will look for the article. It was entitled, if I remember correctly, "Giselle and Fidel." Or did I change my mind and call it "Alicia in Wonderland?" Today I would call it "When Greatness Becomes Baseness and Finally Self-Parody."

Alicia Alonso's greatness as an artist belongs to the time she was a human being. She stopped being a human being (and an artist) 50 years ago and that is the anniversary they should be commemorating in Cuba.

A long life is not always the best thing especially if one negates in old age the accomplishments of one's youth. Ask Marshall Petain. Ask Alicia Alonso but don't wait for an answer.

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