The Red Queen

In 1959, Fidel Castro asked Cuba's prima ballerina Alicia Alonso to begin the Cuban National Ballet company--and she still runs it today

When Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba in 1959, who would have guessed that one of the items high on his agenda would be launching a national ballet company? Yet the idea fit right in with his revolutionary goal of bringing art to the masses. Castro asked Cuba's prima ballerina, Alicia Alonso, and her dancer husband Fernando how much they would need to make it happen. They said $100,000. Castro gave them $200,000. The investment has been paying off ever since.

The Alonsos created a company steeped in the classical disciplines of French, Italian and especially Russian ballet. To fill its...

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