'If people think you can dance and not have a brain, they're wrong'

Wednesday 12th May, 2010 | Posted by Anonymous

United by their appreciation of ballet and their roots in Latin dance cultures, Alicia Alonso and Luis Rodríguez de la Sierra met in conversation to discuss the driving forces behind the 90 year old ballerina and choreographer’s career. Including clips from Alonso’s performance of the lead roles in ‘Giselle’ and ‘Carmen’, the evening explored the complex relationship between physical expression and psychological intention.

Alonso’s success and longevity as a professional dancer have been heavily influenced by her instinctive knowledge of her art. With reference to Freud, Rodríguez de la Sierra questioned her about the correlation between dance and human development. Whilst dance is often heavily stylised, it is at the same time intuitive. Alonso discussed the life-affirming quality of dance: a speechless act that draws one back to the primitive threads of the development of humanity. Recalling her early memories, Alonso pinpointed the beginning of her love affair with dance. It is not something she sees as being consciously chosen, but rather automatic; she did not grow up around ballet, but around music, and the compulsion to move to what she heard.

A deeply held love of dance provides Alonso with her motivation to continue both creating and living life to the full. Partially sighted since a young age, she employed her innate sense of what it is to dance in order to maintain conviction in her performance. As Rodríguez de la Sierra identified, this prompted a new way of thinking about dancing; even though she did not see, she looked. Having trained many dancers herself, Alonso displays sensitivity towards the problems other dancers face, and strives to help them in their efforts to overcome them.

Despite English not being her first language, Alonso communicated with great vigour, humour and grace. As she says, dance is ‘a language that everybody can understand’.

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