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Jerome Robbins
Alicia Alonso, Cuba's living legend of ballet
Alicia Alonso, Cuba's living legend of ballet

To her admirers, Alicia Alonso is the gracious grande dame of Cuban classical ballet. To detractors, she's a conservative cultural czarina who has clung to power even longer than Fidel Castro. But even some of her fiercest critics will concede that Ballet Nacional de Cuba — the 63-year-old company that Alonso principally founded and rules as artistic director — still rates among the hemisphere's most technically skilled ensembles, despite financial hardships, dancer defections and other woes. Nor is there much disagreement that Alonso, at 90, remains a regal and colorful presence, sort of a Caribbean Greta Garbo swathed in head scarves, drop-dead outfits and strong...