Alicia Alonso (1920-2019)

©Yander Zasmora
Alicia Alonso, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

The Cuban ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in June 2002, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the development, preservation and popularization of classical dance, through which she promoted UNESCO’s ideals and the fellowship of the world’s peoples and cultures.

Through the numerous activities she undertook in her native Cuba, Ms Alonso played an exceptional role to preserve, develop, popularize and promote classical dance, especially among young generations.

As Director and leading figure of the Cuban National Ballet, Alicia Alonso was an inspiration to a new generation of Cuban dancers who gained a notable place in international ballet. In June 1999, she was awarded the UNESCO Pablo Picasso Medal for her extraordinary contribution to dance.

In the years after her designation, she concerned herself with programmes and projects on basic education and on the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage. Furthermore, after 2007, she became the sponsor of UNESCO’s ‘Dance for Life’ programme, aimed at preventing elitism and exclusion in the field of dancing.

In her capacity as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, she organised a special Gala event, which was held at the National Ballet of Cuba in March 2015 to celebrate UNESCO’s 70th anniversary. She also took part in International Dance Day Gala in 2018, organized by the International Theatre Institute under the patronage of UNESCO.

Alicia Alonso passed away on 17 October 2019.

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