Alicia Alonso and Ballet Nacional de Cuba at Dorothy Chandler, Segerstrom
Back in the day, circa 1950, Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso (that's her at left) was one of the most admired dancers on either side of the Florida Straits. She'd arrived in New York as a teenager and initially paid the rent hoofing up a storm in Broadway musicals like "Stars in Your Eyes."
But her virtuosity didn't fully claim the spotlight until she joined the freshly minted New York Ballet Theater (later American Ballet Theatre), and became one of the stars of George Balanchine's young company.
In the late 1940s, she returned with her husband to her native Havana and founded the company now known as Ballet Nacional de Cuba. For decades, the bitter political relationship between Cuba and the United States kept her from visiting the U.S.
But in recent years cultural exchanges between the two countries have increased, permitting Ballet Nacional de Cuba to tour the United States this spring, including two Southern California stops. They'll be performing a program of excerpts from "Swan Lake, "Giselle" and other works Wednesday through June 19 at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, and "Don Quixote" from June 23 through 26 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: Alicia Alonso in "Swan Lake" by Maurice Seymour