Viengsay Valdés, one of the company's most outstanding dancers in Don Quixote. Photo: Courtesy of the BNC

The National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), one of the world's most distinguished companies, has begun a tour which includes several cities in Spain and Italy this month, and will conclude next July in Paris.

Directed by the legendary Alicia Alonso, the BNC has gained international renown for its exacting stagings of great classics, its varied repertory, as well as the technical and stylistic virtuosity of its dancers.

For this tour the company has selected, among its great classics, The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Don Quixote, as well as the concert program

The tour will begin in the Sala Roja of the modern performing arts complex Teatros del Canal, located in the Madrid neighborhood of Chamberí, where the BNC will present 12 consecutive performances of The Nutcracker and Giselle.

The current version of The Nutcracker, celebrating the 125th anniversary of its premiere at the Marinski Theater in St. Petersburg, was choreographed by Alicia Alonso for the 16th Havana International Ballet Festival in 1998.

Alicia Alonso, general director of the Cuban National Ballet, vital at 96 years of age, is leading her company on a European tour. Photo: Courtesy of the BNC

One of the talents of the prima ballerina assoluta, when she restages classics, is her great respect for the original style, while making the ballet appropriate for contemporary spectators, as will surely be noted on this new tour.

For the presentations in Madrid, the music by Tchaikovsky - one of his most popular scores, with the memorable Waltz of the Flowers and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy - will be performed by the Verum Symphony with the children's choir from the Royal Chapel, led by conductor Giovanni Duarte.

When The Nutcracker cedes the Madrid stage to Giselle, spectators will enjoy an exceptional version by the Cuban company, originally with Alonso as one of the most fascinating country girl-Wilis in the history of ballet, who has passed on her artwork to today's prima ballerinas.

According to information provided to the press by the BNC, in Spain, performances will continue in Vitoria in the Basque country, Oviedo's Campoamor Theater, and the Auditorio in León.

In June, the BNC will open its shows in Barcelona's Tivoli Theater, with The Magic of Dance, a special concert program composed of scenes from seven of the most famous pieces in its repertory: Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and the Gottschalk Symphony, the first six being emblematic versions, and the last a choreography by the company's own Alicia Alonso.

Italian audiences will be offered a similar program, with The Magic of Dance to be presented in the cities of Turin and Ravenna, from where the BNC will travel on to Paris, in July.

Although this is not the first time the Cuban company has danced in the French capital (they won the Gran Prix in 1966, for a performance of Giselle), it will be its debut in the legendary Salle Pleyel, situated just steps from the Arc deTriomphe, on Faubourg Saint-Honoré Street.

The opening gala, July 6, will be a tribute to the prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, with the company's best dancers presenting a varied program composed of celebrated pas de deux (The Nutcracker, Raymonda, Diana & Actaeon, Romeo & Juliet, The Black Swan, The Corsair, The Tchaikovsky pas de deux, Winter, and Don Quixote), which offer a panoramic view of the companies many dance styles.
Subsequent performances, through July 20, will take Giselle, Don Quixote, and the pas de deux program to the Pleyel's stage.

The brave Kitri in Don Quixote, the ethereal Giselle, and a lively Swanilda in Coppelia will be danced by the company's prima ballerinas Viengsay Valdés, Sadaise Arencibia, Anette Delgado and Grettel Morejón, accompanied by first dancer Dani Hernández and the younger Rafael Quenedit, Patricio Revé, Raúl Abreu and Ariel Martínez.