History


From its grassroots origins as a dance school and community-based performing arts troupe, Ballet Hispánico has grown into a world-class institution.


Recognized for her achievements by the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest cultural honor, Tina Ramirez founded Ballet Hispánico in 1970. From its grassroots origins as a dance school and community-based performing arts troupe, the organization has grown into a world-class institution. Ballet Hispánico’s New York City headquarters house a School of Dance and state-of-the-art dance studios for its programs and the arts community.

In August 2009, Ballet Hispánico welcomed Eduardo Vilaro as its Artistic Director. A former member of the Ballet Hispánico Company, Vilaro founded and led Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater for a decade. Vilaro’s background in dance education and community outreach allows him to build on the company’s founding values and lead Ballet Hispánico into an artistically vibrant future.  
 
Photo Credit: Photo from Ballet Hispánico Archives, photographer unknown
 

Eduardo Vilaro

EDUARDO VILARO joined Ballet Hispánico as Artistic Director in August 2009, becoming only the second person to head the company since it was founded in 1970. In 2015, Mr. Vilaro took on the additional role of Chief Executive Officer of Ballet Hispánico. He has been part of the Ballet Hispánico family since 1985 as a dancer and educator, after which he began a ten-year record of achievement as founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. Mr. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico’s legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape. Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of six, he is a frequent speaker on the merits of cultural diversity and dance education.

Mr. Vilaro’s own choreography is devoted to capturing the spiritual, sensual and historical essence of Latino cultures. He created over 20 ballets for Luna Negra and has received commissions from the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Festival, the Lexington Ballet and the Chicago Symphony. In 2001, he was a recipient of a Ruth Page Award for choreography, and in 2003, he was honored for his choreographic work at Panama’s II International Festival of Ballet. Mr. Vilaro was also inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2016 and was awarded HOMBRE Magazine’s 2017 Arts & Culture Trailblazer of the Year. In 2019, Mr. Vilaro was the recipient of the West Side Spirit’s WESTY Award, was honored by WNET for his contributions to the arts, and most recently, was the recipient of the James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award.

Photo Credit: Eduardo Vilaro | Photo by Paula Lobo
 

Tina Ramirez

Founder Tina Ramirez

TINA RAMIREZ founded Ballet Hispánico in 1970 and served as Artistic Director until 2009. Under her direction, over 45 choreographers created works for the Company, many of international stature and others in the early stages of their career.

Ms. Ramirez was born in Venezuela, the daughter of a Mexican bullfighter and grandniece to a Puerto Rican educator who founded the island’s first secular school for girls. Her performing career included international touring with the Federico Rey Dance Company, the Broadway productions of Kismet and Lute Song and the television adaptation of Man of La Mancha.

In recognition of her enduring contributions to the field of dance, Ms. Ramirez received the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest cultural honor, in 2005. Juilliard awarded her an honorary degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, in 2018. Numerous other awards include the Honor Award from Dance/USA (2009), the Award of Merit from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (2007), the Dance Magazine Award (2002), the Hispanic Heritage Award (1999), a Citation of Honor at the 1995 New York Dance and Performance Awards (the “Bessies”), the NYS Governor's Arts Award (1987), and the NYC Mayor’s Award of Honor for Arts & Culture (1983).

Photo Credit : Tina Ramirez | Bruce Laurance
 


 

Archival Collaboration
Ballet Hispánico and Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies


Over the last forty years under the leadership of Founder Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispánico has remained an important artistic interpreter and educator of the Latin American experience in the American cultural landscape. Ms. Ramirez stepped down as the Artistic Director of Ballet Hispánico in June 2009. Under new artistic leadership, it is imperative that her tremendous artistic legacy and dedication to sharing the diversity of Latino cultures is preserved.


Archival quality preservation, digitization, and an accessible public platform for these dance works and the many unique materials from Tina and Ballet Hispánico history is necessary to help share the evolution of Latino contemporary dance.


In this effort, Ballet Hispánico partnered with Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies (“Centro”) in 2009 to archive the collective effects of Ballet Hispánico and Tina Ramirez. The project is ongoing and will be completed in three phases. Phase One is a collaboration between Ballet Hispánico and Centro to collect, document, and preserve our archival materials, which began in 2010. In Phase Two, Centro will create the official archival catalogue for Ballet Hispánico. Centro will also move the collection to their upstate facility for archival-quality preservation and storage. In Phase Three, Ballet Hispánico will work with Centro to digitize a large selection of the materials and make a special selection of the effects accessible to the public through our bi-lingual website and a series of special events.


We look forward to sharing our collection with a greater segment of the population. On this page is a selected sample of the archive. The public will eventually be able to view actual items from the archives through Centro. As Ballet Hispánico's  legacy continues over time, Centro will continue to receive additional archival effects from the organization.


 


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Ballet Hispánico 2018-19 from Ballet Hispanico on Vimeo.