International Ballet Legend
Can you imagine being a dancer and going almost blind all of a sudden? How would you dance if you could barely see? This is what happened to Alicia Alonso, one of the greatest ballet dancers in history.
Born in Havana, Cuba on December 21, 1922, Alicia began to dance when she was only nine years old, and she made her first presentation in the ballet Sleeping Beauty. At 16, she moved to New York, where she started to be well-known and praised
as a rising ballet star.
Just when her career was starting to take off, Alicia began having sight problems when the retinas of her eyes detached. She underwent surgery to correct the problem and was ordered to spend three months in bed. Can you imagine being in bed for three months without being able to move?
When the blindfolds were removed, Alicia was disappointed that the operation had not worked and she still could not see. Determined not to give up, she underwent a second surgery, again without success. After these two failed surgeries, the doctors gave up and told her that she would never be able to completely see again. Alicia felt very sad. How was she going to be able to dance?
Instead of accepting the medical diagnosis, Alicia went to Cuba to undergo a third surgery; this time, she was ordered to rest for an entire year! During that time, she was not supposed to move her head, laugh, cry, or eat anything hard. She had to lie completely still, like a corpse!
When at last Alicia was able to move again, she returned to New York. Although she had not yet fully recovered, she accepted the lead role in a famous production called Giselle. Her performance was a success! Although she would eventually regain her sight, she could mostly see shadow.
Alicia became one of the best dancers in history. She danced in the most famous ballets of the world and won many awards, such as the coveted Dance Magazine Award. She became a prima ballerina assoluta, a rare honor given only to the very best ballerinas.