A biography in poems and pictures of the prima ballerina assoluta of Cuba, who thrilled audiences for decades with her extraordinary technique and beautiful interpretations of Giselle and other classics.
Alonso danced flamenco as a child, but because “ballet dancing / tastes better / than chocolate ice cream,” she chose it as her lifelong passion. Loss of peripheral vision early in her career and, years later, near total blindness never deterred her. After wooing audiences in New York City and across America, she returned to Cuba in 1959 when Fidel Castro funded her Ballet National de Cuba and remained steadfastly and controversially loyal to him and his government. America closed its doors to her until a triumphant return to New York in 1975 in Swan Lake. Bernier-Grand writes in short, free-verse vignettes that beautifully capture each step in Alonso’s personal life and career. Particularly touching is the poem "Dancing Fingers," which describes Alonso dancing Giselle with her fingers as she lies in bed with bandaged eyes after surgery. Colón’s signature scratchboard illustrations in warm tones of blue, green and gold capture the colors of Cuba, the ethereal stage settings of Alonso’s greatest triumphs and her elegance and grandeur.
She has been a ballerina, a teacher, a Cuban and a role model for those with handicaps. Truly a noteworthy life, poignantly rendered here. (notes, bibliography) (Picture books/biography. 8-14)