Ballet Hispánico always sells out when the company performs in Los Angeles and the same is true throughout the nation. It is considered by many to be the nation’s renowned Latinx dance organization and one of America’s Cultural Treasures.  Right now, Ballet Hispánico is partnering with the community arts program, ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara!, for a two-month virtual residency that began in January and continues through March 18.

Although the more than 40 virtual Ballet workshops that were held at three Santa Barbara County schools, serving more than 130 elementary to high school students as they explore cultural identity through the lens of Con Brazos Abiertos may be ending, there will be an airing of the program March 19-26 on the TVSB community channel that has the potential to reach over 100,000 viewers. The communities participating in the live virtual event represent Isla Vista Elementary, Kermit McKenzie, and Santa Barbara High School. Because this is being aired on TVSB, even audiences without internet access will be able to view the event.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! again. This partnership helps bring our teaching and performances to many communities lacking access to arts programming and in turn ignites cultural pride with a sense of belonging for those communities,” said Eduardo Vilaro, CEO and Artistic Director of Ballet Hispánico. “Now more than ever, our presence and work with Black and Brown communities is essential.”

Led by Company dancer and teaching artist Laura Lopez, students who took part in this residency were given the opportunity to view renowned choreographers and view cultural contexts through the lens of Ballet Hispánico’s repertory.

Ballet Hispánico - Laura Lopez - Photo by Rachel Neville

Ballet Hispánico – Laura Lopez – Photo by Rachel Neville

Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) engage and enrich communities by providing educational programs that celebrate the authenticity of Latinx heritage, culture, and traditions. Ballet Hispánico has developed new, engaging virtual programs to share the vibrancy of dance and Latinx culture with communities spanning all locations, age-groups, and abilities. This is an opportunity to keep our communities connected and create platforms nationwide for Black and Brown artists to be celebrated. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of our mission, and these programs create access points to these principles through transformative artistic experiences.

Statement from Ballet Hispánico: “During this time of social distancing, we have expanded our creativity to connect with the community on a new level. Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing. We have more information on our virtual programming HERE.

About Ballet Hispánico

Ballet Hispánico is the nation’s renowned Latino dance organization and one of America’s Cultural Treasures. Ballet Hispánico brings communities together to celebrate and explore Latino cultures through innovative dance performances, transformative dance training, and enduring community engagement experiences.

Founded in 1970 by National Medal of Arts recipient, Tina Ramírez, the organization emerged during the post-civil rights movement on New York’s Upper West Side, providing a safe haven for primarily Black and Brown Latinx youth seeking artistic sanctuary during New York City’s plight in the 1970s. The need for place, both culturally and artistically, led families to find Ballet Hispánico. The focus on dance as a means to develop working artists, combined with the training, authenticity of voice, and power of representation, fueled the organization’s roots and trajectory.

With its strong emphasis on dance, achievement, and public presence, the organization has flourished in its three main programs: its Company, School of Dance, and Community Arts Partnerships. The organization serves as a platform for historically omitted and overlooked artists providing them with increased capacity, voice, and affirmation. Over the past five decades, by leading with Latinx culture at the forefront of performance, education, and advocacy, Ballet Hispánico’s mission is a catalyst of change and possibility for communities throughout our nation.


¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara!

¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! brings people together to share the rich cultural heritage of Latin America, serving more than 15,000 each year throughout Santa Barbara County. Viva builds bridges through live performance, shared experience, and joyful, personal discovery. Created in 2006 out of a commitment to arts access for all, Viva works with dozens of local partners to present high-quality touring artists – Grammy winners and recognized cultural ambassadors – who share their knowledge, passion, and commitment. Neighborhood spaces in schools, after-school programs, and community centers come alive in these vibrant programs for youth and families across Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, New Cuyama, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria. A leader in community outreach in Santa Barbara County, Viva is a collaboration between Isla Vista School, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, The Marjorie Luke Theatre and UCSB Arts & Lectures. Facebook: @VivaelArteSB Instagram: @VivaelArteSB

To visit the ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! click HERE.

To learn more about Ballet Hispánico, click HERE.

Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: Ballet Hispánico – Sombrerísimo – Choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa – Photo: Paula Lobo