Alicia Alonso named UNESCO goodwill ambassadorParis - Cuban ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso will be appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for her "outstanding contribution to the development, preservation and popularization of classical dance" and for her "devotion to the art-form, through which she has promoted the ideals of UNESCO and the fellowship of the world's peoples and cultures."
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura will formally announce her nomination on June 7 (6.30 p.m.).
For Mr Matsuura, Alicia Alonso "has combined her Cuban roots with different cultures and traditions to bring us remarkable artistic creations, and has helped the growth of dance throughout the Americas and the rest of the world."
As part of her ambassadorial brief, she will focus on basic education and the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage.
Alonso, who is director and choreographer of the Cuban National Ballet, was born in Havana, where she began studying dance in 1931. She made her professional debut in the United States in 1938 after training with Enrico Zanfretta, Alexandra Fedorova and other teachers at the School of AmericanBallet.
A year later, she joined the American Ballet Caravan, predecessor of the New York City Ballet of which she became a member of in 1940. It was beginning one of the greatest periods of her career, in which she interpreted roles in the great romantic and classic works alongside Mikhail Fokine, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille.
She was the star of world premières of works such as Undertow, Fall River Legend and Theme and Variations. During this period she also danced as a prima ballerina in a many countries in Europe and the Americas.
She was keen to foster ballet in Cuba and in 1948 founded the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company, now the Cuban National Ballet, which she still directs. Her choreographies of great classics (such as Giselle, Grand Pas de Quatre, La Bella Durmiente del Bosque and La Fille mal gardée) are world-renowned and have been staged by the Ballets of the Operas of Paris, Vienna and Prague, as well as the Ballet San Carlo in Naples and Milan's La Scala.
Alonso, who admits to two great passions, "dancing and life," has honorary doctorates from Havana University and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). In June 1999, UNESCO awarded her its PabloPicasso Medal for her outstanding contribution to dance.
As director and leading figure in the Cuban National Ballet, she has been an inspiration and guide to a new generation of Cuban ballerinas who have won a distinguished place in world ballet.
Alonso joins 36 other Goodwill Ambassadors who, by using their talent and international prestige, promote UNESCO's ideals of peace, justice, solidarity and mutual understanding in education, science and culture.
Journalists who wish to attend the nomination ceremony should contact
the UNESCO Press Service, tel: 01 45 68 17 47
For more information and for interviews
contact Lucía Iglesias Kuntz, tel: 01 45 68 47 28.