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Cuba’s National Ballet received critical and popular acclaim in Washington D.C. last month for its interpretation of “Kitri and Basilio,” performed at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. The event was part of the Kennedy Center’s Festival of Cuban Arts celebrating Cuban culture and art, which was held May 8th to May 20th, 2018. Inspired by Miguel Cervantes’s “Don Quixote,” the piece was well received by a demanding American audience. The role of Kitri was interpreted by Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes who wowed the public in the nation’s capital at a time when relations between Cuba and the U.S. are at a low point. Basilio was interpreted by Dani Hernandez, and both he and Valdes garnered standing ovations after the Grand pas de deux of the third and final act during their performance. Another standing ovation was granted to Alicia Alonso herself, who was present at the event and made her way on stage to acknowledge the public’s long ovation to her. Before the performance of “Kitri and Basilio” a short video by Cuba’s National Museum of Dance was presented which highlighted Alicia Alonso’s years as a ballerina and her childhood.

Choreographed by Alicia Alonso, Martha Garcia and Maria Elena Llorente and based on the original by Maria Petipa and the Alexander Gorski version. The Cuban National Ballet also performed Giselle at the Kennedy Center last month with lead dancers Gretel Morejon and Rafael Quenedit. The performances last month at the Kennedy Center marked the fortieth anniversary of the Cuban National Ballet’s first performance in the United States, which also took place at the Kennedy Center. Perhaps events like this will help bridge the divide which has developed once again between the governments of the United States and Cuba.

By Clao York

June 12, 2018

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