It has been awhile since I joined the Poetry Friday community, and I am glad to be back. Thank you, lovely Tabatha of The Opposite Of Indifference, for hosting this week.
I try as much as I can to link our Poetry Friday posts to our current reading theme. From October til end of the year, we are celebrating beauty, music, film, visual and performing arts (among others) in literature. I am glad to discover this biography of a Prima Ballerina from Cuba told in glorious verse.
Written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand Illustrated by Raul Colon
Published by Marshall Cavendish (2011)
ISBN-10: 0761455620 (ISBN13: 9780761455622)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
One of the greatest things I love about our reading themes is that it leads me to historical accounts that I was previously unaware of, or to interesting visionaries and highly talented individuals such as Alicia Alonso from Cuba.
This 64-paged book begins from Alicia’s birth in 1921. Known to her family as Unga, she was described to be a child of Hungarian gypsy grace. The reader is taken into a journey of her family history, and how she fell in love with ballet, especially after taking lessons from Nikolai Yavorsky.
There was a poetic description of her very first solo performance and her growing commitment to the beauty and pain of ballet. Raul Colon’s soft, ethereal art complements the verse perfectly, alongside a life that seems suffused with poise, agility, swan-like form, and an aesthetic that radiates from within.
I also liked how the beauty of ballet was not romanticized. I think it is important for young readers to understand and appreciate exactly what it takes to live with such constant pain, sacrifice, and bleeding toes to achieve a level of perfection that is always on point.
The fact that Alicia Alonso nearly lost her eyesight was sobering, yet her continued commitment to her art, firm resolve, and singular pursuit to be everything that she is meant to be – was truly awe-inspiring. My Poetry Friday offering to you all is “Flaming Souls” as Alicia met the man who would eventually become her husband.
I also found Youtube clips of Alicia Alonso performing Black Swan and Giselle. Enjoy!