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Dance Chronicle


Alicia Alonso contended that the musicality of Cuban ballet dancers contributed to a distinctive national style in their performance of European classics such as Giselle and Swan Lake. A highly developed sense of musicality distinguished Alonso's own dancing. For the ballerina, this was more than just an element of her individual style: it was an expression of the Cuban cultural environment and a common feature among ballet dancers from that island. In addition to elucidating the physical manifestations of musicality in Alonso's dancing, this article examines how the ballerina's frequent references to music in connection to both her individual identity and the Cuban ballet aesthetics fit into a national discourse of self-representation that deems Cubans an exceptionally musical people. This analysis also problematizes the Cuban ballet's brand of musicality by underscoring the tension between its possible explanations—from being the result of the dancers' socialization into a rich Afro-Caribbean musical culture to being a stylistic element that Alonso developed through her training with foreign teachers and, in turn, transmitted to her Cuban disciples.





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy.


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