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Cuban dance legend Alicia Alonso dies at 98

CUBA DANCER | 17 de octubre de 2019

Havana, Oct 17 (efe-epa).- Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, a legendary figure in classic dance, died Thursday, a representative of the Cuban National Ballet (BNC) told EFE. She was 98.

Alonso, who despite her advanced age remained active at the helm of the prestigious BNC, had been admitted for health complications to Havana's CIMEQ medical center, where she died about midday.

Cardiovascular disease was the cause of death, according to the Cuban News Agency.

Although in recent months rumors of the delicate state of Alonso's health had circulated on the island, neither the BNC nor her associated had reported her hospitalization, and so at present it is not known how long ago she had been receiving care at CIMEQ, a prestigious and discrete military hospital where foreign figures who come to Cuba for medical care are treated.

No details have been released as yet regarding Alonso's funeral arrangements or the tributes that presumably Cuban authorities will pay to the nation's "top prima ballerina."

The notice of her death spread like wildfire across the social networks, where dozens of her countrymen posted goodbyes to one of the island's iconic cultural and dance figures.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel also weighed in on Twitter noting the "enormous void" and "insurmountable legacy" left by the BNC director.

"Alicia Alonso is gone and leaves us with an enormous void, but also with an insurmountable legacy. She placed Cuba on the altar of the best in world dance. Thanks, Alicia, for your immortal work," wrote Diaz-Canel from Mexico, where he is on an official visit.

The Cuban National Assembly also expressed on its Twitter account its condolences regarding Alonso's death, citing the late Fidel Castro in emphasizing her "talent, tenacity and example, which inspired generations of brilliant artists."

Born in Havana on Dec. 21, 1920, to Spanish parents, Alonso began dancing at age 9, receiving some of her training in the United States and launching a long and much-honored career during which she danced dozens of starring roles on the world's main stages, the best-remembered of them perhaps being that of "Giselle."

She married Cuban dancer Fernando Alonso, with whom in 1948 she founded her dance company, which - after the triumph of Castro's revolution in 1959 - became the BNC.

Among the numerous honors and awards Alonso received during her long career were the Order of Jose Marti, Cuba's top award, Spain's Order of Isabella the Catholic and the Paris University of Dance's Anna Pavlova Award, as well as being named a Unesco Goodwill Ambassador.

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