Lizt Alfonso and the stubbornness that forced open closed doors

Litz was the only girl in her family. She was fortunate to grow up in a humble but “wonderful” home, as she herself notes, which would be the driving force to get to where she has reached in life and in her career.

When she was only 4 years old, she saw the Cuban National Ballet (BNC) perform Coppelia for the first time in the García Lorca Hall of the Grand Theater of Havana. It was there that she decided she wanted to be a ballerina.

Her obsession was such that her mother took her to the BNC headquarters to see Alicia Alonso. Her advice, she recalls, was more or less as follows: “I recommend that you take her to see all styles of art, take her to concerts, museums, theaters, so that she can decide her vocation.”

“My mom thanked her and that’s how the story began.” Lizt Alfonso’s story.

Anyone would think that Lizt’s life has been a bed of roses. But behind this woman, who has been described as an artistic and social phenomenon due to her successful cultural and academic exchanges, choreographic stagings, master classes, workshops, and for directing one of the most prestigious fusion dance groups in Cuba “Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba,” there is a story of stubbornness, misunderstandings, many “no’s” and much resilience.

“From the moment I decided to start out in the world of ballet, I was swimming against the tide.”

Her dance classes were in Santa Fe, Playa. Several times a week she had to travel there from San Miguel del Padrón, “the transport situation was bad and it was like that for several years, with my mother accompanying me.”

When she auditioned to enter ballet school at the age of 8 or 9, she did not pass.

“I got home and thought I would die, but my family rallied to help me make my dream come true. Those were days of suffering, of crying.”

A relative got her an appointment with Laura Alonso, but after some tests she was told that she was not fit to be a ballerina.

“I cried, and she said to me: ‘Are you sure you really want to dance? Because there are children who like ballet, but just to see it. Do you really want to be a ballerina?’ And I was angry, furious. I didn’t give in and Laura told me: ‘Let’s see what we can do’.”

And once again little Lizt was seen sacrificing her spare time, making twice as much effort as the other girls in her dance classes, rehearsing every day, to retake the ballet school exams.

“With a lot of effort, with a lot of sacrifice, to win the battle against my physical conditions, due to the spiritual strength that a child of that age has to have. I took the exam and passed.”

“At ballet school sometimes they told me: the problem is that you are nobody’s daughter, and I said: sorry, I am Lourdes’ daughter. You have to put yourself above all that to achieve a greater goal.”

When she didn’t pass the required level at age 14 or 15, the girl she was had matured, “I realized that God had a different path laid out for me, telling me: open your eyes, there are things beyond this.”

“From there I began to study at the Saul Delgado school and to study with Pro-Danza. I learned Spanish dance, I went to the French alliance, I did everything I could. My day had more than 24 hours, but they were experiences that opened a great range of possibilities to me.

Her goal was to have her own dance company and to succeed on the major international stages. At the age of 23 he had already accomplished the first objective, when she created her independent company in 1991.

“Being independent at that time in Cuba was considered counterrevolutionary, we could not perform anywhere, until little by little some small spaces opened their doors to us.”

Gradually, her company broke the mold, and in the early 2000s they were called to join the Performing Arts Council.

“But to this day we continue to bear the cross that we were and are a very independent company, which sets out its own path and economic plans.”

“What are you afraid of?” I ask her.

“Lies and mediocrity,” she replies.

Experts say that the company’s productions are usually of high quality, that its shows are characterized by originality and the ability to reinvent itself, with a repertoire that overflows with Cuban identity.

For 30 years Lizt, who has a degree in Dramaturgy and Theatrical Studies, has been a dancer, choreographer and entrepreneur. She has managed to mix ballet, contemporary rhythms, flamenco, traditional and Afro-Cuban dances, among other styles, to make each of her shows a work of art. Her productions have toured the most exclusive stages worldwide.

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