Legendary ballet dance company promotes Latino culture

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- For nearly 50 years, Ballet Hispanico has introduced ballet, contemporary dance and the arts to kids and adults of all ages. The legendary New York-based dance company now presents its Latino-infused brand of ballet throughout the country.

"Ballet is our foundation, but we do a fusion," said Laura Lopez, a dancer with the company. "As Latinos we have this special flavor and I feel that's what really stands out. There's 'un sazon' as we would call it."

"Some of the first dance that I saw was actually footage of Alicia Alonso, a very famous prima ballerina in Cuba," said company member Melissa Verdecia. "She had such power and such poise. I couldn't recognize it at the time, but it made me feel empowered as a woman."

Acclaimed dancer and former Ballet Hispanico member Eduardo Vilaro now heads the organization.

"The company was founded in 1970 by educator and choreographer Tina Ramirez. She wanted to give access to the arts and arts education to her community," said Vilaro. "Since its inception, it continues to provide a training ground as both performers and lovers of art for children of all ages.

Ballet Hispanico also partners with schools nationwide, including several schools in the Los Angeles area. Recently, the organization performed at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

"What we do is really focus on artists that celebrate joy and a shared experience of humanity. We really want to celebrate diversity on our stage," said Carolyn Elliott, Director of Programming at The Broad Stage.

Students from L.A. schools were invited to a special performance and educational session.

Ballet Hispanico
https://www.ballethispanico.org/

The Broad Stage
https://thebroadstage.org/
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