When Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso created the ballet “Carmen Suite” in 1967 for the Russian prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, the Russian Ministry of Culture told the ballerina that “you have made a prostitute of a Spanish heroine.” Thought to be “too sensual,” the ballet was shelved by censors but is now considered a source of choreographic pride for both Russia and Cuba after the Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso made the role her own in that country.
Through a series of events many years later, Alberto Alonso left Cuba and came to Santa Fe College to teach dance to a new generation of students. The Santa Fe College-produced documentary film, “Dance of My Heart,” tells Alonso’s story and the story of the creation of “Carmen Suite” through interviews with Alonso and Plisetskaya. “Havana Journal” described the film as “an ode to the power of art, the power of love and the power of beauty that will not succumb to the power of time.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Carmen Suite,” Santa Fe College will screen “Dance of My Heart” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville. Following the film, Adiarys Almeida and Carlos Guerra—two dancers formerly with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba—will perform excerpts from “Carmen Suite.”
Tickets are $15 for adults in all sections; $9 for seniors, children, and University of Florida students; and free for Santa Fe College students, faculty, and staff with college identification cards. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181 or visit the Fine Arts ticket website at:
Sonia Calero-Alonso, Alberto’s wife and sole owner of his intellectual property who also taught dance at SF during her husband’s time at the college, is staging the excerpts of “Carmen Suite.”
Directed by Ricardo Acosta, the 50-minute “Dance of My Heart” explores Alberto Alonso’s place in dance history as the creator of the Cuban style of ballet and the first Cuban male dancer to tour with the world famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
A former principal dancer with the Cincinnati Ballet and first soloist at Boston Ballet, Adiarys Almeida was born and grew up in Matanzas, Cuba. She danced with the National Ballet of Cuba for two years under the direction of Alicia Alonso, Alberto’s sister-in-law. “I relate myself to Carmen,” Almeida says. “She was a very strong woman, very secure of herself. She was a gypsy, a fortune teller. She knew her destiny from the beginning, but she still went her way, because she wanted to live her life the way she wanted, without caring about what others think. I’m a little bit like that. When I want something or I have a goal, I will go for it.”
Also a native of Cuba, Carlos Guerra joined the Miami City Ballet in 2001 and was principal dancer with the company from 2003 to 2016. With his wife Jennifer Kronenberg, Guerra recently founded Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami.
“We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate this pivotal moment in ballet history and to honor the memory of Alberto Alonso, who helped take our dance department to a whole new level while he taught here,” said SF Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes.
The film/dance performance is part of Bulla Cubana—a series of events aimed at cultivating the free flow of arts, culture, ideas and inspiration between the USA and Cuba—that will take place in multiple venues throughout Gainesville from January through March 2017. The celebration will showcase the talents of invited fine artists, muralists, dancers, musicians, chefs, mixologists, photographers and filmmakers.
The event is sponsored in part by SF College and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Visit Gainesville, a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council.
For more information or photographs, call SF College Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes, 352-395-5296.