14ymedio, Marcelo Hernández, Havana, 19 October 2019 — The farewell to dancer Alicia Alonso, who died last Thursday in Havana at age 98, was very similar to her last moments. If the renowned interpreter of Giselle was part of the life wrapped up in power and paying homage to Cuban government, her funeral has the flavor of a farewell to a head of state or a political leader, but without the popular presence that would be expected from such a long artistic existence
Just at ten o’clock this Saturday, there was no line of people waiting in the vicinity of the Great Theater of Havana, which has been carried the name of the Prima Ballerina Assoluta for several years, and has been the place where his remains were brought so that “the people” could pay her a final tribute. Only a score of the curious were in place at that time and most were official journalists and foreign correspondents.
What is quite noticeable around the theater is the presence of a huge security device that includes patrol cars, elements of the motorized police, ambulances, firefighting equipment and, somewhat surprisingly, an entrance door with a security scanner similar to those found in airports, some government buildings and the strategic institutions of the country.
The extensive esplanade in front of the theater, from San Martín street to Neptune, remained closed with barriers. The main entrance was reserved for personalities with others required to enter through Boulevard San Rafael, where security measures were even more visible. All the equipment is even more disproportionate due to the low number of people.
The artist who was acclaimed on stage and exalted in the official obituaries that have filled the media in recent days, had not connected with the Cuban public for many years. They saw her more as a distant being, elevated to the tops of the cultural Parnassus and completely separated from the daily life of the Island. In many ways, she had been endorsed and sanctified long before she died.
So that at five in the afternoon when the funeral procession proceeds to Havana’s Colón Cemetery, for many it will be like closing the last page of a book that bears the title of 20th Century. With the death of Alicia Alonso, one of the most important artists of that century, an era of inflamed leaderships and oversized figures, also comes to an end.
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