Alicia Alonso (published 1982)

Dublin Core


Alicia Alonso (published 1982)


Alonso talks about her approach to learning lead roles (such as Giselle) from observing steps, entrances, and exits while in the corps de ballet (chorus). She discusses her "famous year" in bed, rehearsing steps on her fingers from memory. Alonso also mentions juggling 3-4 ballet performance a night, while also rehearsing for the role of Giselle during the day.

Biographical note:

Born in Havana in 1921, Alonso began her ballet training in Cuba and continued it in New York City with Anatole Vilzak and the School of American Ballet. She joined the corps of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 1940 and was promoted to ballerina two years later. She danced regularly with Igor Youskevitch in productions by George Balanchine. She maintained her affiliation with ABT until 1960, but also performed regularly with other companies, including the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. In 1948 she founded her own company, Alicia Alonso Ballet Company which was later renamed Ballet Nacional de Cuba. At the time of this interview she was the director and prima ballerina of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Now, well into her nineties, Alonso continues to direct the ballet company.


Pratt SILS LIS-665, Barbara Newman

Date Created

July 19, 1979



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Is Part Of

Newman, B. (1982). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Newman, B. (1992). Striking a balance: Dancers talk about dancing. New York: Limelight Editions




Interviews recorded on cassette by Barbara Newman

Rights Holder

Barbara Newman, Alicia Alonso

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette Tape

Digital Format


Digital Master




Bit Rate/Frequency



Barbara Newman


Alonso, Alicia, 1921-


New York, NY

Additional content

"Most dancers die - or at least retire - before they become legendary, but Alicia Alonso dances on, an authentic legend in her own lifetime. Her ties to Giselle alone span thirty-seven years, longer than most people dance. I had never laid eyes on her before September 29, 1977, when she danced the role in New York for the first time in seventeen years. At first, the fact that she could still execute it seemed extraordinary. By Act II, the depth, detail, and technical brilliance of her performance had surpassed my expectations and justified the extravagance of her legend" Barbara Newman (1982).




“Alicia Alonso (published 1982),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed August 10, 2022,

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