By Lisa Petrillo
Updated on: September 22, 2022 / 10:00 AM / CBS MiamiMiami Proud: Miami City Ballet's artistic director is a Latina trailblazer
MIAMI - As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, we meet with the Miami City Ballet's artistic director, Lourdes Lopez.
Now in her 11th season as artistic director, Lopez leads the Miami City Ballet with the experienced technique you'd expect from a prima ballerina.
Her storied career includes roles as soloist and principal dancer with New York City Ballet, led by two legends George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.
She is also a pioneer.
"I continue being the only and the first Latina principal dancer in the history of New York City ballet," she said.
Lopez is Cuban American, her family came to Miami fleeing the Castro regime in 1960.
Surprisingly, her introduction to dance was at the advice of a doctor.
At age 5, she was diagnosed with weak legs and urged to get exercise beyond what was offered in school. And that is when her journey to prima ballerina began.
She progressed to private lessons and then leaped at the chance of a lifetime.
"At 14, I was given a full scholarship to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. That is what's surprising when I think back on my life - that my parents (when I was 14) said 'go'!"
She became a soloist and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.
She had been taught by Balanchine - who lovingly signed a painting of them that hangs in her office today.
She broke barriers in a world-class dance company although there were several Latin dancers she idolized as a child.
She recalled being taken to the ballet at the Dade County Auditorium and seeing Cuban ballet dancer Lidia Diaz Cruz.
She says she always wore her heritage proudly.
"I always embraced it; I never hid it. In fact, on my ballet bag, there was a Cuban flag. It was stitched on. My mother would say, 'Remember that you're Cuban and you got to hold that country high!'"
Her heritage has shaped who she is and how she works today.
"Diversity is incredibly important because the more people you have from different places the richer you are," Lopez said.
"It's the excitement when they come together," she explains about leading the current company of dancers in her charge.
"The fact that they're from different places ... I think makes Miami City Ballet so unusual."
Among her many accomplishments, Lopez co-founded the Cuban Artists Fund, which supports Cuban and Cuban American artists. And she received an award from the American Immigration Law Foundation.
She is also the proud mother of two daughters.
The Miami City Ballet season kicks off on October 21 with "Romeo and Juliet."
Lopez says they are so excited to finally launch a full season after two years of the pandemic.
For more information on ticket details, click here.
Lisa Petrillo is the entertainment and lifestyle reporter for CBS4 News. Lisa also hosts the CBS4 "Taste of the Town" segment, which celebrates South Florida's growing culinary scene and reports on fashion, travel and other lifestyle trends.
First published on September 22, 2022 / 9:37 AM
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