Sunday, August 27, 2006

Her friend, Fidel

Alicia Alonso is on her way to Europe and beyond.

The woman who has been synonymous with Cuban ballet for close to 50 years is touring Spain, Great Britain and Egypt next month with her company, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (BNC).

To mark the occasion, the formidable Ms Alonso has given an interview to the Havana newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, which is tightly controlled by the regime - like all media in Cuba. You can read it here, in Spanish.

As well as discussing her work, the forthcoming tour and preparations for a ballet festival to be held in Havana later in the year, the prima ballerina has some kind words to say about her close friend, Fidel Castro.

This is par for the course in revolutionary Cuba, you understand. Whenever Cuban artists or sportspeople are allowed by the regime to travel overseas to “represent the nation”, they are inevitably interviewed by the official media. And amazingly, they inevitably have very kind and inspirational things to say about the old dictator.

The very privileged and well-travelled Ms Alonso, who is in her 80s and nearly blind, recalls in the interview that she has had numerous meetings and encounters over the years with El Comandante en Jefe, as she respectfully refers to Castro. And guess what, all of these meetings have been very pleasurable.

“Fidel is always concerned about my health, about how the BNC is going, about ballet generally,” she gushes, before comparing her friend to David throwing stones and knocking over the American imperialist Goliath.

Spoken like a true artiste.


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