Learn about these 5 Ballet Stars in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting five SAB alumni of Latinx heritage who went on to incredible performing careers. Spanning several generations, each of these artists exemplifies excellence in dance and inspires countless others to pursue ballet training or even just purchase a ticket to a performance. Scroll through to learn a little bit about each dancer, watch clips of them performing some iconic roles, and find links to take a deeper dive into their life stories.

Alicia Alonso

Alicia Alonso with Reyes Fernández in Giselle. Photograph by Annemarie Heinrich, c. 1960, Annemarie Heinrich (1912-2005), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Alicia Alonso is an inspiring and profound figure in ballet history. Not only is she remembered for her legendary artistry, longevity as a performer, and immense contribution to ballet in her native Cuba, but also for her battle with chronic vision problems, which never deterred her from continuing to dance. She studied at SAB in the late 1930s before becoming a star of American Ballet Theatre and eventually returning to her native Cuba to establish the National Ballet of Cuba.

Read more about Ms. Alonso in our SAB Trailblazer Feature and watch her performing Giselle (a role she performed throughout her long career on the stage.)

Fernando Bujones

Fernando Bujones performing Bournonville's Konservatoriat at SAB's Workshop Performance in 1971.
Fernando Bujones performing Bournonville’s Konservatoriat at SAB’s Workshop Performance in 1971.

Fernando Bujones was a virtuosic star of American Ballet Theatre from 1972 – 1985 and then again in the 1990s. Born in Miami, he actually received his first ballet training in Cuba, where he took classes at Alicia Alonso’s school during trips with his mother to her homeland. He relocated to New York to study at SAB on full scholarship at the age of 10, and trained under legendary faculty members André Eglevsky and Stanley Williams. Considered something of a prodigy when appearing in SAB’s annual Workshop Performances, Mr. Bujones was destined for ballet greatness and became an international ballet sensation. His long lines, impressive jump and technical precision were nothing short of thrilling on stage.

Read more about Mr. Bujones and watch his incredible technique in action in this excerpt of Paquita performed by American Ballet Theatre.

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera [foreground] and Shark girls perform “America” in the stage production West Side Story; photo by Fred Fehl.
Chita Rivera remains one of Broadway’s biggest stars, having originated iconic roles such as Anita in West Side Story, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, and Velma Kelly in Chicago. Ms. Rivera trained at SAB from the age of 14, studying with many of the School’s early faculty members before launching into a career in theater that would span over seven decades. Ms. Rivera’s dynamic performance style, humor, grace and longevity continue to inspire generations of performers.

Read more about Ms. Rivera in our SAB Trailblazer feature and watch a bit of her dancing in this T.V. clip from the Judy Garland Show…

Lourdes Lopez

Lourdes Lopez performing Paquita in SAB’s Workshop. Photo by Martha Swope.

Lourdes Lopez is the current Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet and has been a leader in the arts world in more ways than one. At the age of 11, she received a full scholarship to SAB, splitting the year between her home in Miami and New York City. At fourteen, she moved to New York permanently to devote herself to full-time studies at SAB, and shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Ms. Lopez joined the corps de ballet of New York City Ballet. After a successful performing career, Ms. Lopez joined WNBC-TV in New York as a Cultural Arts reporter, writing and producing feature segments on the arts, artists and arts education. She went on to become the Executive Director of The George Balanchine Foundation in 2002 and co-founded The Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their endeavors. She also co-founded Morphoses with Christopher Wheeldon in 2007 before taking the helm as Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet in 2012.

Read more about Lourdes Lopez’s impressive career and watch her speak about Miami City Ballet’s most recent season below.

Paloma Herrera

Paloma Herrera (right) in rehearsal at SAB with Mrianda Weese and Faculty Member Suki Schorer.

Paloma Herrera quickly rose to ballet stardom in the 1990s. Born in Buenos Aires, Ms. Hererra came to New York to study at SAB in early 1991. After just six months, she was selected to dance the leading role in Raymonda Variations at SAB’s annual Workshop Performance. She joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in June of 1991, was promoted to soloist in June of 1993, and to principal dancer in March of 1995. Ms. Herrera retired from American Ballet Theatre in 2015, and in 2017 she returned to her home in Buenos Aires, Argentina to serve as director of the Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón. Her dynamic technique is coupled with passionate artistry in her performances, a combination that made her a true inspiration to a new generation of young dancers.

Read more about her life and dazzling list of leading roles and be sure to watch her in one she was particularly well known for – Kitri in Don Quixote – partnered by Angel Corella in the video below.

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