Venezuelan Tina Ramírez, founder and artistic director of Ballet Hispánico, has died at the age of 93, the organization reported today.

Ramírez, daughter of a Mexican bullfighter and an activist of Puerto Rican origin, died last Tuesday surrounded by her family in her home, but it was not until today that she made herself known through a press release.

The dancer, described as a “visionary” and “innovator,” and who came to New York with her family when she was about six years old, founded the Hispanic Ballet in 1970 and served as its artistic director until 2009.

Under his direction, more than 45 choreographers created works for the company, many of international stature and others in the early stages of their careers, including Talley Beatty, considered one of the best African-American choreographers, the Spanish Ramón Oller, winner of innumerable awards, the Bolivian María Rivera and the American William Whitener, also a dancer, educator and director, among many others.

“I am heartbroken by the news of Tina’s passing. Her legacy lives on not only in the extraordinary gift she left the world, but in each and every person, child, artist and family she touched and inspired,” he said. in the statement Eduardo Vilaró, the artistic director and executive director of the dance group, who replaced Ramírez.

From its inception, Ballet Hispánico focused on providing a haven for youth and families seeking an artistic venue and cultural sanctuary, the statement said.

It further indicates that by providing the space for Latin dance and dancers to flourish, the dance company uplifted emerging and active artists who were marginalized.

For more than fifty years, the Hispanic Ballet has been a catalyst for social change and is currently the largest Latino cultural organization in the United States and one of the country’s cultural treasures, the statement further highlights.

Today, its New York headquarters houses a dance school and state-of-the-art dance studios for its programs and the arts community.

Ramírez, who studied ballet, modern dance and Spanish dance, received countless accolades, including in 2005 the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest cultural honor, for her contributions to the field of dance, and in 2018 the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

“Ramírez was an artist and activist who founded the Hispanic Ballet to address structural inequalities in the arts. From the moment I met her almost twenty years ago, I knew I wanted to be part of the artistic movement that she was passionately creating,” he said. For her part, the chairman of the board, Kate Lear.

Lear remembered Ramírez as a “fierce, brilliant, authentic” woman who leaves “a rich legacy of bringing dance, cultural connection and transformation to students and communities around the world.”

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