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Interview with Alicia Alonso, November 19, 20, and 21, 1977

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Interview with Alicia Alonso, November 19, 20, and 21, 1977
Alonso, Alicia, 1921- (Interviewee)
Hunt, Marilyn, 1937- (Interviewer)

Dance Oral History Project

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1977-11-19
Date Created: 1977-11-20
Date Created: 1977-11-21
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZT 5-681, reels 1-2 (former)
De Mille, Agnes
Robbins, Jerome
Tudor, Antony, 1908-1987
Loring, Eugene, 1911-1982
Chase, Lucia, 1897-1986
Youskevitch, Igor, 1912-1994
Alonso, Alicia, 1921- -- Interviews
American Ballet Theatre
Ballet Alicia Alonso
Ballet Caravan, Inc. (New York, N.Y.)
Ballet Nacional de Cuba
Oral histories
Content: Interview with Alicia Alonso conducted by Marilyn Hunt on November 19, 20 and 21, 1977, at the Executive Hotel, San Diego, California for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division Oral History Project. Alonso's husband, Pedro Simón, was present during at least part of the recording and they occasionally speak to each other in Spanish.
Bibliographic history: Title supplied by cataloger.
Source characteristics: Sound quality is fair. There is occasional extraneous noise including significant "tape hiss" as well as occasional short gaps. However, for the most part, the speakers' voices are easily intelligible. The volume of the November 20 session (in streaming file 2) fluctuates.
Venue: Recorded for The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts November 19, 20, and 21, 1977 San Diego (Ca.)
Funding: The conservation and cataloging of this recording was made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The support of the National Endowment for the Arts is also gratefully acknowledged.
Physical Description
Audiotape reel
Extent: 2 audiotape reels (approximately 5 hr., 7 min.) : analog, 1.875 ips, half-track, polyester; 5 in.
Streaming file 1, November 19, 1977 (approximately one hour and 38 minutes). Alicia Alonso speaks with Marilyn Hunt about her early training in dance in Cuba and in Spain; her study of Spanish dance including her performing [Argentinita's and Leonide Massine's work] Capriccio espagnol with Massine; her first teacher Nicolai [Thereberocoff] Yavorsky; diverse influences on her style and technique; early student performances in Cuba; being photographed in motion with Hugh Laing for LIFE magazine; her teachers in New York including Alexandra Fedorova, [Enrico] Zanfretti, Leon Fokine, and Antony Tudor; her approach to movement and character interpretation, for example, in [Agnes de Mille's] Fall River legend as compared with the Black Swan [Odile] in Swan lake; working with De Mille in Fall river legend including changes in the steps made for Gemze De Lappe and for Nora Kaye; working with Tudor including in his Shadow of the wind; her early career in New York, in musical comedy; joining Ballet Caravan including an anecdote about Lincoln Kirstein; joining Ballet Theatre [later American Ballet Theatre]; more on her work in musical comedy including Great lady and Stars in our eyes; Jerome Robbins; touring with Ballet Caravan; some of her roles including in [Eugene Loring's] Billy the Kid; working with Loring; her approach to learning a role; Richard Pleasant; the three branches of Ballet Theatre at that time [ends abruptly but continues directly on streaming file 2].Streaming file 2, November 19, 20, and 21, 1977 (approximately one hour and 39 minutes). Alicia Alonso continues to speak with Marilyn Hunt about Ballet Theatre including Antony Tudor's Pillar of fire; working with Mikhail [Michel] Fokine including in his ballet Petrouchka; her relationship with Lucia Chase; her reasons for leaving Ballet Theatre and joining Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo; the allocation of roles at Ballet Theatre including Alonso's position with respect to Rosella Hightower; a casting controversy involving Mary Ellen Moylan; choreographers who were important to her development [November 19 session ends and November 20 session begins]; study of the other arts, such as painting, sculpture, literature, and theater, as part of her preparation for a role; her partners including Anton Dolin and his teaching her the role of Giselle; other ballets they danced together; Igor Youskevitch; touring with the newly-formed Ballet Nacional de Cuba, in 1959; the first International Ballet Festival of Havana [Festival de Ballet de La Habana] including a disagreement with Youskevitch regarding publicity [November 20 session ends and November 21 session begins]; Alonso describes herself as a dancer including what she considers Latin in her dancing [ends abruptly but continues on streaming file 3].Streaming file 3, November 21, 1977 (approximately one hour and 36 minutes). Alicia Alonso speaks with Marilyn Hunt about her company [Ballet Nacional de Cuba] including what constitutes the Cuban style; Azariĭ Pliset︠s︡kiĭ; André Eglevsky; the production of Coppélia with Niels Bjorn Larsen as Dr. Coppélius at the Greek Theatre [in Los Angeles]; her ballet Lydia; Ballet Nacional de Cuba including its origins as Ballet Alicia Alonso; founding a ballet school in Cuba; choreographing; Mikhail Mordkin; more on her time at Ballet Theatre and Lucia Chase; [Antony Tudor's] Undertow; working with Tudor; working with George Balanchine in his Theme and variations and in his Apollo; Balanchine as a conductor; an anecdote about [Igor] Stravinsky's conducting of Apollo; touring in Russia [the former Soviet Union] including her partners; dancing in Giselle with the Royal Ballet in Denmark [ends abruptly but continues directly on streaming file 4].Streaming file 4, November 21, 1977 (approximately 14 minutes). Alicia Alonso continues to speak with Marilyn Hunt about performing Giselle with the Danish Royal Ballet; ballet competitions; Leonide Massine's Aleko and his Three-cornered hat.
Type of Resource
Sound recording
RLIN/OCLC: 81347624
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12118529
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 655449a0-b30c-0133-c560-3c07547a230f
Rights Statement
The New York Public Library holds or manages the copyright(s) in this item. If you need information about reusing this item, please go to:

Item timeline of events

  • 1977: Created
  • 2020: Found by you!
  • 2021

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Alicia Alonso" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1977.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Alicia Alonso" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 4, 2020.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (1977). Interview with Alicia Alonso Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (sound recording) Interview with Alicia Alonso, (1977)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 4, 2020 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Alicia Alonso