Cuban ballet dancers help improve U.S.-Cuba relations


Photo: Dance Europe/ Osiel Gounod

Changes in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and other nations often begin with cultural and educational exchanges.

In the 1970s, “Ping-pong diplomacy”, or exchanges between U.S. and China’s ping pong players paved the way for a thawing in relations. In Cuba, “ballet diplomacy” may have signaled Tuesday’s announcement of improved relations between the United States and Cuba.

In November 2010, the American Ballet Theater performed in Cuba for the first time in 50 years, in a high-profile series of cultural exchanges. Over the years, Cuba has earned a well-deserved, international reputation as an incubator of talented ballet dancers.

Alicia Alonso, director and choreographer of the Cuban National Ballet, was born in Havana, and began studying dance in 1931. She made her professional debut in the United States in 1938. She later founded the Alicia Alonso Ballet Company, now the Cuban National Ballet in 1948. As director and leading figure in the company, she has been an inspiration and guide to a new generation of Cuban ballerinas who have won a distinguished place in world ballet. CCTV America’s Michael Voss interviewed Alicia Alonso about her career, family, and what’s in store for the future of Cuban ballet.

Part one of Alonso interview:

Part two of Alonso interview:

Osiel Gounod was named a principal male dancer with the renowned National Ballet of Cuba—at age 21, one of the youngest to have achieved this distinction.
CCTV America’s Michael Voss interviewed Gounod and accompanied him on a visit to his hometown.

Part one of Gounod interview:

Part two of Gounod interview: