Havana.- With white flowers on its coffin and other brightly colored ones around it, classical music and a relentless parade of Cubans, on Saturday he paid tribute to the “assilute ballerina prima” Alicia Alonso.The mortal remains of the artist, who died on Thursday the 98-year-old was installed in the foyer of the Gran Teatro de La Habana “Alicia Alonso”, a neo-baroque building of majestic columns and marble-clad stairs that serves as the headquarters of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (BNC).
“For every Cuban, this is an irreparable loss,” Cristina Reyes, a 58-year-old state employee who came to say goodbye to the dancer, to The Associated Press. “Alicia has been to us the inspiration of the Cuban woman for all that she achieved in her personal and professional life… she always gave herself up.” Visibly shocked, Reyes queued with thousands of people slowly passing one at a time through a side door until approaching the coffin. A strong supporter of the revolution, Alonso had strong support from the Cuban state. He managed to make ballet a considered elite art elsewhere_ to become a daily thing for the general public, recognizing it as an icon and filling the functions organized by the company under his iron command.
For many it was only “Alice”, without surname, following the Cuban custom of calling by their first names the leaders of different spheres in order to make them close. The main officials of culture and intellectuals also came to say goodbye to Alonso and greeted his widower, the critic Pedro Simón.
We mourn the sensitive passing of Alicia Alonso, considered one of the legends of Cuban dance and classical ballet; in addition to the founder of the National Ballet of Cuba
We join the grief that engulfs the dancistic community, family and friendsQEPD prima ballerina pic.twitter.com/JJhLeOilm5 — CNDanzaMX (@CNDanzaMX)
October 17, 2019
“She’s my mother. What I feel again is that, I lost mine and her, the second. The pain is almost physical,” Salvador Fernández, the main set designer of the BNC and a close collaborator of Alonso in his productions and in the direction of the institution of dance, told the AP. “She taught me to understand the theater, she gave, she didn’t keep anything.” Dancers of all ages, his disciples, also came to honor the memory of Alonso _who managed to turn Cuba into a powerhouse of classical dance by preparing hundreds of students that today make up the main companies of the world. A guard of young dance students from different companies in Havana accompanied the coffin in the foyer that was presided over by a Cuban flag.