On Monday, December 27, 2010, Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto presented prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, director of the Cuban National Ballet, with the National Arts Teaching Award. She was given a certificate, a silver hummingbird, and a cash prize.
The Cuban Higher Institute of Arts (ISA) grants this award to personalities with an outstanding life in the arts. ISA rector Rolando González praised Alonso’s over-six decade work with ballet dancers, showing an amazing teaching vocation.
Several generations of ballet dancers gathered to pay homage to Alonso, who was selected unanimously for this award. The jury acknowledged Alonso’s work leading the Cuban National Ballet which she founded. The 90-year-old ballet legend thanked the Institute for this award which considers the most important of her life. She told admirers, journalists and dance students that “the most wonderful moment in life is when one can teach others what one has learned. [. . .] Having taught others has been my greatest satisfaction.”
At the end of the ceremony, the Manuel Samuel Conservatory Violin Orchestra (directed by Ada Talán) played La bella cubana and Damisela encantadora to pay homage to Alonso.
Alonso rose to stardom with the American Ballet Theater. She has led the Cuban National Ballet for decades, despite being nearly blind.