Two dozen students in various combinations of tights, leotards, sweats and T-shirts surrounded renowned Cuban prima ballerina Laura Alonso following the rigorous master class she had just offered them in the main studio of the Mather Dance Center at CWRU. Ms. Alonso was here through a partnership with DanceCleveland and Case brokered by the Cleveland Foundation as part of the Foundation’s interests in expanding Cleveland’s understanding of Cuba and its culture.
For 90 minutes, students of Case’s dance program and local professional dancers were put through a non-stop series of precision warm-ups at the barre, and then given the opportunity to explore a range of short but complex movements from the classical repertoire. With a single demonstration of the steps she wanted them to repeat, Ms. Alonso set the dancers moving, pacing around and through them pointing, pushing poking, pressing to correct form and praising when what she saw pleased her.
I am constantly amazed at dancers’ ability to repeat a complex series of steps after having seen them just once. And I think it is beautiful how, no matter what a dancer’s native language is, all dancers ‘speak’ ballet; pliè, arabesque, etc.
Daughter of the internationally renowned prima ballerina Alicia Alonso, and a world famous ballerina in her own right, Ms. Alonso is a woman of grace, gravitas, wicked humor and absolute commitment to the great traditions of classical dance. She knows all styles and in her class she often stopped to demonstrate the differences between Russian and American approaches to certain movements and explain the Cuban ‘style’ – which she teaches in her own school and company in Cuba.
She travels regularly and has longstanding relationships with ballet schools around the world. On this trip, after a few days in Cleveland, she is off to other cities in the U.S. to work with other students eager to learn from a master so strongly connected to the grand and universal traditions of ballet. We were privileged to host her here.