Ballet is ballet is ballet, isn’t it? Well, not really. No technique of ballet is the “original”; rather, all surged out of others’ existence. Born in Italy, raised in France and Denmark, cultivated in Russia and refined in England and the Americas, ballet is nothing if not an international art form. As such, over the course of more than 300 years, several methods have diverged from a common classical vocabulary. These methods are most pronounced in the major schools from which they arose, with the teaching philosophy central to the development of the method’s principle beliefs. Today, different methods of ballet are recognized, having been developed by great teachers who perfected the technique and design of ballet to incorporate key elements of the discipline as well as the culture from which it sprang forth. These methods include the Cecchetti method (Italian), the Bournonville (Denmark), the Vaganova method (Russian), the Royal Academy of Dance method (British), the Balanchine method (American) and the Alonso method (Cuban). Techniques found in classical ballet form the framework for many other styles of dance today, including modern/contemporary ballet, jazz and even hip hop. The Cuban method of ballet training was developed by the synergistic work of three influential and groundbreaking artists who developed their craft through master expression:
Fernando Alonso, a master teacher who was able to guide dancers to a higher level of personal expression, thereby enhancing the emotional spectrum of the piece while advancing the technical vocabulary. Fernando studied and integrated the disciplines of psychology, philosophy, anatomy of the body and performance in his teaching, in order to draw the best from each of his students.
Alberto Alonso, a master choreographer who was capable of creating stunning new dance languages and new interpretations of classical pieces.
Alicia Alonso, a world famous dancer and Prima Ballerina Assoluta who possessed the technical proficiency, spirit and dedication to bring ballet to a new level of art form.
The creation of the Cuban method of ballet dates back to the 1930s. Fernando Alonso’s study of schools in France, Italy, Denmark, Russia and Britain formed the basis for developing his own methodology. The trio of Fernando, Alberto and Alicia Alonso are the founders of the Cuban National Ballet School, which reflects the technique of the Cuban method of ballet.
The Cuban method has its origins in the Russian Vaganova method, which emphasizes dancing with the entire body. This results in harmonious movement between arms, legs and torso. As with other methods of ballet, in the Cuban method the torso is the very foundation of all movement, so the dancer’s torso is trained to be strong and well aligned. Movements are then achieved through control of the very core, producing action which is very clean and precise but not rigid. However, the Cuban method diverges from other methods in that it has a romantic feel that also combines high Russian extensions and jumps with intricate Italian footwork, French arm artistry and British attention to detail. Of special importance is the emphasis in the work of the pas de deux, where the couple dances in tight synergy. In the Cuban method, communication between the couple is enhanced, so that the art of ballet is heightened through expression and drama. Unison and harmony of the couple is achieved through a true connection, through the eyes, the entire face, the arms and the hands. All aspects of the Cuban method…the physical, emotional and spiritual…fuse to create a style of ballet which is like no other. The purpose of the creation of this Cuban method, also known as the “Alonso Method”, was to create an ideal style of ballet which, unlike any other, pays attention to the form as a whole and not by its parts, turning the dancer into an esthetically perfect figure.
The Cuban method has changed the face of ballet with its superb technique and impeccable foot work. It is organic, extraverted and highly expressive. It is a style and artistry which truly incorporates the aesthetic tastes and roots of Cuban culture within its very structure. Cuban trained dancers and students of the Cuban method are now sought throughout the world and achieve marquee status with prominent ballet companies internationally.