OBITUARY: Ramona de Saá, Great Master of Cuban Ballet

OBITUARY: Ramona de Saá, Great Master of Cuban Ballet
Fecha de publicación: 
22 April 2024
Imagen principal: 

Ballet maître Ramona de Saá Bello, one of the most important figures in Cuban dance, died early this Wednesday in Havana.

Known by her friends and admirers as 'Chery', she was one of the most prominent disciples of Alicia and Fernando Alonso and herself became the main trainer of many of the most  renowned Cuban dancers of the last half century.

Director of the Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, her contributions to the realization of the Cuban method in teaching are priceless. She was always one of the main references of her art pedagogy.

Her country recognized her with the national awards for Dance (2006) and Artistic Teaching (2002), the highest awards for her life's work in those two fields.

Together with her sister Margarita de Saá, and those known as the four jewels of Cuban ballet (Mirta Plá, Josefina Méndez, Loipa Araújo and Aurora Bosch), Ramona was part of the essential group of dancers who accompanied the Alonsos in the re-foundation of the National Ballet of Cuba after the triumph of the Revolution.

She soon had to abandon her career as a dancer due to serious injuries. She then devoted herself to teaching.

First as a teacher at the School that she founded together with Fernando, later as its director, for decades she developed a work that contributed substantially to the so-called 'miracle of Cuban ballet': the consolidation of an authentic, internationally recognized school.

Entire promotions of dancers identify her as her primary teacher. This is the case, for example, of Carlos Acosta, international dance star, who has paid her several tributes.

“Ramona de Saá Bello is one of the most prominent and multifaceted figures of the Art of Dance in Cuba and her work solidly supports the creative and pedagogical movement of that art,” states the note released this morning by the National Center of Art Schools of Cuba (CNEArt).

And it added: “The legacy of Maestro Ramona de Saá goes beyond the artistic; she is and will always be an example of dedication, of moral and ethical strength, of simplicity and altruism.”

In an interview published by this website, in March 2020, the teacher said:

«One of the activities that keeps us all awake, linked, excited, committed to life, hopeful about the future is precisely art, the possibility of appreciating art. The work that this country has done in the training of artists has been so important that we have incredible strength in that sense.

And she added: «I greatly admire that capacity to move, to mobilize, of Cuban art in all its manifestations. And I feel very responsible for the work of transmitting the immense legacy left by the great teachers. In the case of ballet, our dear Alicia, Alberto and Fernando Alonso.

By family decision, the artist's mortal remains will be cremated. A posthumous tribute will be held soon in honor of her immense legacy.

A life dedicated to dance

. Ramona de Saá was born in Havana, on July 23, 1939. She studied at the Alicia Alonso Academy.

. With the National Ballet of Cuba she reached the category of soloist.

. She was the promoter and founder of the ISA Dance Art Course.

. When the Ministry of Culture was created, she was promoted as national methodologist of the Directorate of Artistic Education (currently CNEART).

. Along with her intense work as a pedagogue and lecturer at a national and international level, she never stopped teaching classes at the National Ballet School.

. For her extensive pedagogical work, she received the Raúl Gómez García distinctions, the Jesús Menéndez, José Tey and Alejo Carpentier medals (2001), as well as the National Dance Awards (2006) and the National Artistic Teaching Awards (2002) and the Félix Varela Order.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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