Alicia Alonso and Viengsay Valdés (Courtesy of Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Boris Muriedas)

Sad news: Alicia Alonso, the great Ballerina and icon of the Cuban Nacional Ballet is dead.

She was one of the greatest 20th century ballerinas, a living legend and icon of the Cuban Nacional Ballet.  “Alicia Alonso has gone and left an enormous void, but also an unbeatable legacy,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in a post on Twitter. “She positioned Cuba at the altar of the best of dance worldwide. Thank you Alicia for your immortal work.” After the 1959 revolution she danced with her partner, the Russian Igor Youskevich for many years. Alcia Alonso received the rare title of prima ballerina assoluta, reserved for only the most exceptional of dancers.

“As the daughter of a small Caribbean island, Alonso confronted all the barriers, those who said ballet was an art of developed countries, that the Latino physique and temperament could not adjust to the needs of classical dance,” Cuban-born Carlos Acosta, former principal guest artist of the Royal Ballet, said in a statement on Thursday.