The Authentic Lizt Alfonso
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- Culture and Traditions
- 02 / 15 / 2010
To speak about Lizt Alfonso can make anyone fall into unavoidable repetitions, as the artistic career of this young ballerina and choreographer has increased in relation to the quality of her shows.
Lizt Alfonso and her company have gone beyond the Cuban borders. The
artist has become, perhaps without her own awareness, a true
Ambassadress of the Cuban culture.
Renowned for the excellence and originality of its shows, the “Lizt Alfonso” Cuban Ballet Company has succeeded in countries such as Canada or Egypt, where the audience and the critics have exceptionally welcomed them.
What it was a Spanish-rooted ballet in the beginning, has become with
the passing of the years into a great group, with a unique hallmark, in
which roots such as the African are mixed, without leaving Cubanness
Its director, the choreographer and ballerina Lizt Alfonso, is one of the most renowned and prominent artists of the ballet-fusion in the Island. A documentary on the work the artist develops with her company was recently premiered in Cuba.
The curious thing is that the documentary was produced by the prima ballerina of the Canadian National Ballet, Veronica Tennant, who profoundly admires Alfonso’s work. Before travelling to Ecuador with the group, Lizt accepted to talk to CubaNow.
CN.- In the Canadian documentary dedicated to the Company you said that since you were four you knew you were going to dedicate your life to the dance. In your opinion, how much did that early vision help the today’s internationally-renowned Lizt Alfonso?
LA.- It helped a lot. It is very good to get your priorities in life and to set your goals, and even though it might seem impossible, since I was four I decided what I was going to do with my life. And though I faced all sorts of obstacles and lack of understanding to accomplish my goal, in the end, as the saying goes, “never say die”.
CN.- Perfection and care over the details are the characteristic features of your company. Do you think that these elements make a difference to the ballets from other parts of the world?
LA.- No. What makes the difference is the style, the way of getting closer, assimilating, seeing and dancing as we do; the fusion of elements that have allowed us to have that hallmark people from all over the world appreciate when enjoying our
shows. Details are a complement and the sublimation of the work, as when you are able to concentrate on them, it’s because the main body of the work is done and confirmed. And perfection is something that, in my view, all human beings, including
me, must try to achieve, even though it is never possible; but at least, you must try to get as closer as possible to what you consider perfect. That’s the sublimation of the work.
CN.- Do you think that the Spanish dance, which is also a characteristic of the company, turned into a fusion of genres with the passing of the years? If so, what do you think the reason is?
LA.- The Spanish dance was the origin, the root. Shortly after, I asked myself why we had to be pleased with imitating if we could be authentic. I had all the elements in hand and at hand-reach to grow and fly with our own wings. The challenge was
higher, of course, but, what’s the worth of life without challenges?
CN.- Did you ever aim to produce mega shows as the ones you do, ever-better made?
LA.- Yes. I love working with groups, combining interests, making dreams possible. And I say this because it’s quite difficult to achieve this kind of show in which there are so many people under your responsibility; it’s complex but wonderful.
CN.- What differences do you want the audience to see from one show to another one? Are you afraid of doing the same thing or making people get bored? How do you face that?
LA.- All the differences in the world and all the necessary similarities. It’s a functional paradox. I mean, you try to show the audience that you have new things to say, but at the same time you must make them identify not only with those new things but also with those they have already seen. That’s the way to establish a coherent and transparent discourse between the creator, the work and the spectators. Sometimes this discourse has to be repeated in order to go on. You must be sure where the first step was taken in order to clearly know where the next will take you. I don’t know if it would be appropriate to say that we fight against that; actually, we learn that when it happens. If I consider people will get bored with something, I don’t do it or I simply do it to me.
CN.- What’s needed to be a member of the Lizt Alfonso Company, either as a dancer, a musician or a lighting technician?
LA.- To have dedication, love for what you do. To remove the phrase ‘it’s impossible’ from the vocabulary. To be willing to look for the unattainable, for perfection.
CN.- What did you stake when creating the company?
LA.- What part of me? I was fully devoted to this dream, wholeheartedly, since the very first day and till the present. The day this is not the case, I quit.
CN.- What changes have there been in your personality since the beginning of your professional career and until the present?
LA.- I believe there has been none. What you learn with the passing of the years is to coexist with all things around you, with people’s features, cause everyone’s a world apart, but at the same time they are the world, a single place where we must
all live. You grow up, put things in their right places but being passionate about what you do; if that wit dies, you also die.
CN.- The relationship with children, working with children, is of great importance to you. Why?
LA.- Since I was a child, I was taught a José Martí’s principle that somehow reads: every man has the right to be educated and then, in return, the duty to contribute to the education of the rest of the men. Today’s children are tomorrow’s men.
Future will depend on them. So, efforts cannot be spared to ensure their academic, moral, spiritual and cultural education, so they become good men and at the same time feel responsible and proud of that future to which we are educating them today.
CN.- What teachers do you always have in mind and what do you think you owe them?
LA.-: The teachers of my life: my grandmother, my parents, my uncle. Laura Alonso, Dino Carrera. Also those who directly or indirectly contributed and still contribute, with their teaching and performance and example, to my formation. And so many
persons such as Alicia and Fernando Alonso, Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and Eusebio Leal (historian of the Havana city).
CN.- Where do you think you can get to? Where do you want to get to?
LA.- We’ll just have to wait and see, though I don’t expect wonders. I rather work pretty hard every day to try to get closer to the wonder of life.