Carlos Acosta, famed principal with the Royal Ballet in London, performing with his company during their historic visit to Cuba, his native country.


Cubans watching the performance outside the Garcia Lorca Hall, which seems to have been broadcast live on the big screens.


The legendary Alicia Alonso, credited largely with bringing ballet to Latin America and Latin America to Ballet, 88 years old now, surrounded by Acosta and Tamara Rojo (also with the Royal). Joel Carreno (Jose’s little brother), of Ballet Nacional de Cuba is on the far left. All photos from Getty Images, taken from the Sacramento Bee online.

Wow, I’ve been so busy first with ABT / NYCB season here, and now with trying to put the finishing touches on my novel (hopefully will be out by the end of the week, fingers crossed!) that I totally missed this amazing story. The Royal Ballet is currently making their first ever visit to Cuba. Thank you thank you thank you to Haglund for pointing it out. He’s been covering it (via the papers and online networks). Visit his blog to get all the updates — start here with the most current entry.

Last Thursday Alexandra Ansanelli (above, photo by Enrique de la Osa, of Reuters) gave the final performance of her career, in Cuba’s Grand Teatro. Ansanelli surprised everyone by retiring early (she’s only 28; she’s an American ballerina, much beloved by many New Yorkers, as she was formerly with NYCB. She joined the Royal a few years ago so that she could take on more classical roles). Read an interview with her in the USDaily; link also via Haglund.

And go here for a news video, “A Diplomacy of Dance,” on MSNBC — there’s some good coverage of Acosta, who is interviewed. Again via the awesome Haglund. Do read the rest of his blog; he’s got lots of stuff that I didn’t link to. Oh dear, what would we do without blogs?…


  1. Hey Tonya! Tamara is spanish 🙂 (though she was born in Montreal)

  2. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks Linda! I'll change it — I swear one of those newspaper articles said Cuba; otherwise I'd never have thought that…

    I'm really enjoying your blog, by the way. I love the posts on the different kinds of jumps and leaps!

  3. Hi, thanks for this. Love your blog !

    If you want to see more links about the Royal Ballet's Cuban visit, please have a look at my website.

    You will also find interviews and articles about the Company and others. Enjoy !

  4. Haglund is blushing from all the kind words. Thanks for the shout outs.

    The Royal Ballet in Cuba is one of the most important culture stories of the year, so far. To see ballet, of all things, lift the spirit of an entire city is truly remarkable.

    Somewhere in all of those fabulous media stories was a mention that the Cuban National Ballet will be making the exchange trip to London this year or next. While it's doubtful that Alicia Alonso could accompany them, it would be another historical event if she did. First we have The Royal Ballet dancing with the Cuban National Symphony, and next it appears we might see The Cuban National Ballet dancing with the Royal Opera House Orchestra. Unbelievable!

  5. Thanks! Will keep them coming! 🙂

  6. Indeed, Ballet Nacional de Cuba is doing a series of shows between March 30th – Apr 11th 2010, but they won't be on the Royal Opera House, but on the London Coliseum. Needless to say, we are very excited!

  7. So the question is, Why hasn't any of this broken into the NY Times? Its arts pages make room for every crappy new reality TV show and the London theater scene is covered as if London were located in Murray Hill, yet this inspiring story–nothing.

    And, related: Is Joan Acocella ever going to deign to write about ballet again?

  8. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thank you, Elise! Great blog — thank you for linking to it!

  9. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh how exciting, you guys! I really really want to go — maybe I'll look into going over there..

    I'm very grateful to you, Haglund, for finding all of those reports, especially since, as you noted, our main paper here isn't covering it…

  10. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Hi Mr Wolcott! I have no idea why the NY Times isn't covering this. It's the oddest thing. Lately, though, I've found their dance coverage to be odd. So many times I've looked for a review of a certain company — Nicholas Leichter, Larry Keigwin, Avi Scher — and there's nothing there. (I know Keigwin eventually got a review, but it was practically at the end of the run) Yet, there are reviews of social dance festivals in San Francisco and performances far outside of NY. Now, this huge story, this historic event, and there's no mention at all. I'm relying on that paper too much!

    I can't understand what's going on at the New Yorker either. It seems like she's writing a relatively short piece about once every few months. I don't know how magazines are run and I don't know if she's asking for the ballet assignments and they're refusing to give her space, or if it's more her responsibility to take the initiative — I really don't know how it works. But there's no reason why she shouldn't be writing about ballet now. With Veronika Part's Letterman appearance, Roberto Bolle, Natalia Osipova guesting, and Michelle Obama opening ceremonies, ABT has had a HUGE season. My blog readership has about tripled, and people are coming from all over the world now. I'm really hoping we get a big ballet season wrap-up from her, but who knows…

  11. Maybe The New York Times is locked out of Cuba. So Arthur decided not to run any story at all. Or – maybe Alastair is locked out of Cuba. Mr. Castro may not like his reviews of Cuban dancers who perform with the RB or ABT.

    There's a story to no story in The New York Times. We need a gumshoe detective to go after it.

  12. Forgot to mention! If you check our tweets, we've posted several videos covering the RB's visit. We just posted a very nice one with dress rehearsal footage! Shame on the NYTimes for their poor (non-existent) coverage.

  13. I'm having dinner next week with a high-ranking New Yorker editor (well, a lot of other people will be there too) and thought about asking him why Joan Acocella has been missing in action regarding ballet, but what's the point? He'll just mumble in that Harvard-Oxbridge way that so many affect at the NY'er and decline to dish the dirt. Maybe instead I'll just throw out a general comment at the dinner table along the lines of, “That Skip Gates–what a crybaby.” That'll liven things up.

  14. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks Linda — I'll look for them. I get so lost on Twitter sometimes! I'm following too many people methinks…

  15. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh I'd love to hear the answer to that! But, yeah, I imagine they're going to keep quiet…

  16. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks Linda — I'll look for them. I get so lost on Twitter sometimes! I'm following too many people methinks…

  17. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh I'd love to hear the answer to that! But, yeah, I imagine they're going to keep quiet… Yeah, I've heard they're rather snobby there nowadays. It's too bad — it didn't used to be. Or at least that's what I thought.

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