November 18, 2005

Tina Ramirez, Founder of Ballet Hispánico, is Awarded the National Medal of Arts

• The first Latina dance artist to receive the Nation’s highest cultural honor

New York - Tina Ramirez, Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Hispanico, has been awarded the National Medal of Arts for her enduring contributions to the field of dance. President George W. and Mrs. Bush presented the award in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House on Thursday, November 10, 2005.

Ms. Ramirez joins a distinguished group of Hispanic artists who have received the award.  They include singer jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera (2005), singer Lydia Mendoza (1999), musician/composer Tito Puente (1997), composer Eduardo “Lalo” Guerrero (1996), singer Celia Cruz (1994) and actor Jose Ferrer (1985). “As the first Hispanic recipient in the field of dance, I am honored to join such an illustrious group of Latino creative pioneers. To receive this recognition during Ballet Hispanico’s 35th anniversary is a wonderful testament to the beauty and vitality of Hispanic culture and its capacity to make a powerful contribution to both contemporary dance and our modern American society. With the coming expansion of our headquarters in the autumn of 2007, Ballet Hispanico looks forward to broadening our programs and reaching new audiences in the 21st century.”

Ms. Ramirez established Ballet Hispanico in 1970 to enrich American dance with the beauty and vitality of contemporary Latin cultures through performance, training and education. Since then, the professional Company has performed for more than two million people on three continents, building a repertory of over 75 works created specifically for the troupe by some of the world’s most acclaimed choreographers. In April 2006, Ballet Hispanico will be performing in collaboration with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where fellow Medal recipient, Wynton Marsalis, serves as artistic director.  

The Ballet Hispanico School offers year-round professional training in ballet, modern and Spanish dance for over 600 students. In addition to performing with Ballet Hispanico’s own company, alumni of the school have gone on to careers in theater (Priscilla Lopez, Nancy Ticotin), film (Jennifer Lopez, Leelee Sobieski, Rachel Ticotin) and television (Michael DeLorenzo), as well as with other leading dance companies. Ballet His-panico’s award-winning “Primeros Pasos” division has been a pioneer in the field of arts education. This innovative program annually serves over 17,000 students and teachers in New York City and across the country.

Born in Venezuela, the daughter of a Mexican bullfighter and a Puerto Rican educator, Ms. Ramirez came to the United States at the age of seven, where she studied dance under New York’s grande dame of Spanish dance, Lola Bravo, and with such noted teachers as Alexandra Danilova and Anna Sokolow. She subsequently performed throughout Spain as a solo artist; with the Federico Rey Dance Company; in the inaugural Festival of Two Worlds in Italy with John Butler; and in the Broadway productions of Kismet and Lute Song and the television adaptation of “Man of La Mancha.” 

Ms. Ramirez’s achievements have also been recognized with the Dance Magazine Award (2002), the Hispanic Heritage Award (1999), and the New York Governor’s Arts Award (1987). Ms. Ramirez currently serves on the board of The New 42nd Street, Inc and as Co-chair for the New York City Department of Education Dance Curriculum Blueprint Committee. 

Other 2005 National Medal of Art recipients include author Louis Auchincloss, jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera, actor Robert Duvall, arts patron and advocate Leonard Garment, jazz musician Wyn-ton Marsalis. The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition.

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