Helson Hernandez

Xiomara Reyes. Photo: Gene Shiavone

HAVANA TIMES — One of the great expectations of 23rd International Ballet Festival of Havana, to be held from October 28 to November 7, will undoubtedly be the presence in Cuba of dancers of the US company known by the abbreviation ABT, for the American Ballet Theatre.

It was with this group that the director of the upcoming event and Cuba’s greatest ballerina of all time, Alicia Alonso, left a story that marked the beginning of her momentous career.

The last festival had a tremendous impact two years ago, when the ABT participated with its principal figures and part of its dance troupe. On that occasion the delegation was led by its director Kevin McKenzie after half a century of not having visiting the Cuban stage.

The first time the largest ballet company in the United States performed for an audience on the island was in 1947, with Alicia with her partner Igor Youskevitch.

They were both members of that group of artists directed by Lucia Chace; that troupe would later return with another significant delegation for what would become the 1st International Ballet Festival of Havana, in 1960.

After Alicia Alonso, the two Cubans who established themselves as first dancers in the American Ballet were the now-retired Jose Manuel Carreno and Xiomara Reyes. Though the local media speaks of little of her, she has had an interesting career, beginning her professional activities with the dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba.

Xiomara Reyes. Photo: Fabricio Ferri

In addition to graduating from the National Ballet School, she is remembered for her work with the Joven Guardia (Young guard) created by Laura Alonso at the Centro Pro-Danza de Cuba, a project that provided opportunities to many generations of Cuban and foreign dancers to interpret roles in full productions of the great classics. Many of those artists went on to establish careers in different companies worldwide.

Reyes subsequently traveled to Europe, where she nourished herself on valuable experiences such as the additional training she received within the ranks of the Royal Ballet of Flanders, in Belgium, performing as one of its top artists until reaching the status among the leading figures of the ABT.

This enabled her return to Cuba during the past Ballet Festival, after 20 years without being able to step onto the land of her origin.

“I would like to be able to do a complete ballet in Cuba,” said this woman, who represents Cuba all over the world with her art and through her talent as she projects a dimension of Cuban culture.

Xiomara Reyes will once again shine on stage, this time as part of the show “Jose Manuel Carreño and the Stars of the American Ballet,” scheduled for November 5 and 6 at 5 pm at the Teatro Mella as part of the biannual festival.

It is hoped by many ballet enthusiasts on the island that artists such as this one achieve their dreams of performing in front of their compatriots to demonstrate everything they have managed to learn abroad.

Many look forward to seeing “Xiomarita” (as her fans affectionately call her) together with the ballet company with which we saw her grow up: the National Ballet of Cuba.

 


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