Good News….

….that Spain is to have its own National Classical Ballet Company, to bring home their many talented dancers who have been forced abroad. Its base will be in the Madrid dormitory town of Fuenlabrada. The local Mayor there, Manuel Robles, has apparently been working on this project for some time and has the support of Tamara Rojo, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, and Alicia Alonso, the founder and director of Cuba’s national ballet who has a dance institute in the town’s University.

Alonso, now 85 and blind, is a living legend and anyone who has her on their side is likely to get what they want. She was afflicted with an eye defect when she was 19 and since then her partners have always had to be in the exact place she expected them to be. She used lights in different parts of the stage to help guide her.

She was a founding member of the American Ballet Theatre, and despite her disability, became one of their leading ballerinas, working with Mikhail Fokine, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille.

Her partnership with Igor Youskevitch became famous and together with him she joined Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in 1955. I saw the recent film of that Company a few weeks ago, and she and her partner featured amongst many others. Coincidently I also heard an interview with her on the radio the other day when she was extolling Cuba’s commitment to ballet. A very formidable lady.

Admitting that she is involved in the formation of Spain’s own Ballet Company, Tamara Rojo has said that ‘the idea is there, but it is going to take time. Nothing is going to happen immediately. Things have to be done properly’. The El Mundo newspaper claims that Rojo will spend 70% of her time in Spain, providing that she can reach an agreement with the Royal Ballet.

It all sounds a bit tentative but hopefully is more than just a story in the press.

With Spain’s long history of music and dance it would certainly be a natural development for the country to have its own Ballet Company. But will it only be classical ballet? Surely there needs to be experimental choreography as well, and some sort of marriage between traditional flamenco and modern dance. We await developments with interest.