2005 National Medal of Arts
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush present the National Medal of Arts award to Tina Ramirez. White House photo by Eric Draper.
Tina Ramirez has combined her artistic vision with years of performance and teaching experience to create and sustain the nation's preeminent Hispanic-American dance company and school, Ballet Hispanico.
Born in Venezuela, Ms. Ramirez came to the United States at the age of seven, where she studied under New York's grande dame of Spanish dance, Lola Bravo, as well as with such noted teachers as Alexandra Danilova and Anna Sokolow. Her first professional performances were with the Federico Rey Dance Company and later with John Butler. She also appeared in the Broadway productions of Kismet and Lute Song, and the television adaptation of Man of La Mancha.
In 1963, Ms. Ramirez returned to New York to fulfill a promise to take over her retiring Spanish dance teacher's studio. In 1967, she conceived and directed Operation High Hopes, a professional dance training program for inner-city children. In addition to teaching, she arranged performances for her young students as the Tina Ramirez Dancers.
Encouraged by the skill of her pupils and increasing requests for performances, Ms. Ramirez formally established Ballet Hispanico in 1970. Since then, the Ballet Hispanico Company has performed for more than two million people on three continents, building a repertory of over 70 works created specifically for the troupe by some of the world's most acclaimed choreographers. The Ballet Hispanico School offers year-round professional training in ballet, Spanish dance and modern for over 600 students.
In 2004 AARP Magazine deemed Ms. Ramirez "a cultural trailblazer" and chose her as one of its ten "People of the Year." In 2002, she received the Dance Magazine Award, one of the highest honors in the dance field. In 1999, she received a prestigious Hispanic Heritage Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements in education, presented at a gala celebration at The Kennedy Center. In 1987, Governor Mario Cuomo presented Ms. Ramirez with the Governor's Arts Award in recognition of Ballet Hispanico's outstanding contribution to the quality of New York's cultural life. Ms. Ramirez was named a Latina of the Year by Latina Magazine in 2000.
Among her numerous other achievements are the Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture (1983) and the Mayor's Ethnic New Yorker Award (1986), both presented by Mayor Edward I. Koch and citations of honor at the 1995 New York Dance and Performance Awards (the Bessies) and at the 1992 Capezio Dance Awards. 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.
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