Alicia Alonso: Dancing with eyes closed

Acclaimed Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso had severe eye problems. At the age of nineteen, after many operations for detached retinas in both eyes, young Alicia received a prognosis that changed her life: she would never again be able to dance. In the months she lied motionless in bed, the ballerina rehearsed in her head and with her fingertips. Every day she danced with her hands, working on Giselle.

Her vision was permanently damaged, and she had to learn how to walk and see again. It was a long recovery time, but Alonso was able to go back to dancing, first as an instructor. In a turn of events, Alicia was invited to perform Giselle at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, even though she had only rehearsed that ballet in her mind.

The life of this courageous dancer is portrayed in Beatrice Siegel's book: Alicia Alonso, the Story of a Ballerina. Both the book and the writer's papers are housed in the Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections.

This exhibit features research materials assembled by Beatrice Siegel while she was writing Alicia's biography.


Curator: Juliana Magro. Creator: Beatrice Siegel