Synopses & Reviews
Alicia Alonso's artistic achievements are remarkable,
considering that she became partially blind and lost
her peripheral vision at age nineteen. From childhood, she
exhibited a passion for dancing, studying first in Cuba and later
in New York City, where she became an overnight
sensation in Giselle and was promoted to principal
dancer in Ballet Theater. Returning to Cuba in 1948, she
founded her own company, which eventually folded due to
lack of funding. In 1959 the Cuban government gave
her enough money to establish a new dance school, Ballet
Nacional de Cuba, which Alonso directs to this day. In elegant
free verse and stunning artwork rendered in watercolor, colored
pencils, and lithograph pencils on watercolor paper, Carmen T.
Bernier-Grand and Ra??l Col??n capture the seminal events in
Alonso's life. The back matter includes a biography,
Alonso's ballets, choreography, and awards,
a glossary, sources, notes, and websites.
"Bernier-Grand's (Diego: Bigger than Life) free-verse picture-book biography follows one of 20th-century ballet's most gifted and steeliest ballerinas, tracing her climb to the rank of prima ballerina assoluta and her battle to continue dancing as she loses her sight. Spiced with the Spanish of her native Cuba and full of poignant detail (her husband-to-be, seeing her dance, decides on the spot to study ballet so he can be her partner), Bernier-Grand's account does not flinch from Alonso's complex relationship with the Cuban government ('Why do you find killings by Castro/ more acceptable than killings by Batista?' picket signs read), nor from the physical punishment that is the reality of dance ('Dry blood has glued her toe shoes to her feet'). ColÃ³n's (Play Ball!) portraits have the dramatic scale of Depression-era murals; they capture Alonso's grace and celebrate her strength, too. There's little frilliness; Alonso's will to live and to dance seems like a force of nature, and the story, which follows her from childhood through her professional career and into retirement, has the scope of an adult work. Ages 10 up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A biography in free verse of Cuba's most famous ballerina