May 12, 2023
Ballet Trailblazer –
As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we’re excited to spotlight an inspiring ballet trailblazer: Evelyn Cisneros-Legate, SAB alumna and the first Mexican-American prima ballerina.
Evelyn Cisneros in Helgi Tomasson’s Menuetto; Images from the Robert J. McLeod Photography Collection
Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Evelyn Cisneros-Legate began dancing at eight years old. After seeing the Bolshoi Ballet perform Swan Lake with her family, she quickly fell in love with ballet and set focus on a career in dance. In 1975, she was accepted with a scholarship to SAB’s Summer Course, and in 1976 she was offered an apprenticeship with San Francisco Ballet.
While in the corps de ballet, Ms. Cisneros-Legate faced discrimination as a Hispanic dancer. She recalls being told to lighten her skin with makeup to ‘fit in’ with the other dancers. This experience motivated her to make her mark and rise in the company’s ranks, eventually achieving the position of principal dancer. Determined to stand out rather than fit in, Ms. Cisneros-Legate danced for 23 years with San Francisco Ballet, performing principal roles in ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Theme and Variations, Cinderella, and many more.
In 1999, Ms. Cisneros-Legate retired from performing to spend more time with her family. She currently serves as the director of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy, sharing her experience and expertise with students at the school.
(C) Blaine Truitt Covert
We honor and celebrate Evelyn Cisneros-Legate for her work and the immeasurable impact she has on the ballet community.