We caught up with Lourdes Lopez, the new artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, just before rehearsal this past Friday afternoon at the Broward Center.
That night she would introduce herself formally - for anyone even casually acquainted with dance has been following the backstage/boardroom drama - to the Fort Lauderdale/Boca Raton audience.
But when we interviewed her for this video, she was cordial, cool and clearly in charge.
You'd never know that she was asked to tour jete into her position eight months earlier than scheduled after the company's co-founder Edward Villella was ousted. So for the first time in 27 years, the company was under different leadership with this performance which got strong reviews the previous week when it debuted at Adrienne Arsht in Miami.
As a matter of fact, the only question she bristled at was when I asked her about being the only Latina to head up a major ballet company. Indelicate? Yes. But a must-ask nonetheless...in SoFlo.
The evening included the nostalgic ice-skating party of Sir Frederick Ashton's "Les Patineurs;" the George Balanchine/Igor Stravinsky neoclassical collaboration "Apollo" and Paul Taylor's Tango-imbued "Piazzolla Caldera" - all beautifully danced with the company's signature laser-like precision (particularly "Apollo").
Born in 1958, Lopez' family moved from Havana to Miami in 1959 (her father was an army officer who opposed Fidel Castro). When she was eight she took up dance. At 14 she moved to New York to attend the School of American Ballet and the Joffrey School. At 16 she became a member of the New York City Ballet working with Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, where she remained for 24 years (retiring at the age of 39).
After that there were stints at WNBC in Manhattan, the Ballet Academy East and the George Balanchine Foundation. She started her own company Morphoses with Christopher Wheedon in 2007 (he left in 2010).
She has two daughters and is married to investment banker George Skouras.
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