Lourdes Lopez Named Executive Director Of The George Balanchine Foundation

NEW YORK CITY - Lourdes Lopez has been appointed as the new executive director of The George Balanchine Foundation. A former principal dancer of New York City Ballet, Ms. Lopez, will oversee the Foundation’s many activities and will work to develop funding to support the organization’s projects.

The George Balanchine Foundation is a public charity that was incorporated in 1983, five months after Balanchine’s death, to utilize the Balanchine legacy in order to advance the highest standards of excellence in dance and its allied arts in the United States and throughout the world. The Foundation has pursued these goals through ongoing projects, which include The George Balanchine Foundation Video Archives that are video documentations of coaching sessions by leading dancers who worked directly with George Balanchine. Other projects include lecture programs by leading dancers and dance historians, and the exploration of new technologies to be used for dance scholarship.

Lourdes Lopez was born in Havana, Cuba, and spent her early years in Miami, Florida. She moved to New York City at the age of fourteen to attend the School of American Ballet. Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, George Balanchine invited Ms. Lopez to join the corps of New York City Ballet.

Ms. Lopez was soon seen in leading corps and soloist roles in the company’s repertory. Among them were the “Arabian” variation in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, the “Coquette” in Balanchine’s La Sonnnambula, and a principal role in his Divertimento No. 15. Following a successful European tour where Ms. Lopez danced principal roles in Balanchine’s Strainvsky Violin Concerto, Serenade, and Apollo, Mr. Balanchine promoted her to soloist in 1981, and in 1984, she was made a principal dancer. Her many roles while in the company included leads in Balanchine’s Agon, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Concerto Barocco, Cortége Hongrôis, The Four Temperaments, Jewels (“Emeralds”), Kammermusik No. 2, Liebeslieder Walzer,

Stars and Stripes, Symphony in C, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, Union Jack, Western Symphony, Who Cares?, and the Balanchine/Robbins collaboration Firebird; Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering, Concertino, The Four Seasons, Glass Pieces, The Goldberg Variations, In The Night, Ives Songs and Brandenburg; Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries, Jazz (Six Syncopated Movements), and The Sleeping Beauty. Ms. Lopez also originated roles in several guest choreographers’ ballets. Among them were: Laura Dean’s Space, William Forsythe’s Behind The China Dogs, and Lar Lubovitch’s Rhapsody in Blue during the company’s 1988 spring American Music Festival, and John Alleyne’s The New Blondes, which was presented during the company’s 1994 Diamond Project.

While in New York City Ballet Ms. Lopez performed on several world tours with Edward Vilella and Peter Martins, and she appeared several times with NYCB on the PBS series “Dance in America.” In addition, Ms. Lopez performed the role of “Hot Chocolate” in the film version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, produced by Elektra Entertainment/New Regency Enterprises, and distributed by Warner Brothers in 1993.

Ms. Lopez’s activities, both while at New York City Ballet and since, have included an active involvement in arts educational programs. Included among them are her contributions to NYCB’s educational Family Matinees; her performing on, and contributing to, several episodes of the popular PBS children’s television series “Sesame Street;” her receipt of the Gold Medal of Honor from Casita Maria for her volunteer work with underprivileged children, which included teaching an integrated arts program created by Ms. Lopez; being a senior faculty member of Ballet Academy East since 1998 where she held the title of Director of Student Placement, Student Evaluation and Curriculum Planning for the BAE Graded Level Program, being a guest teacher at Barnard College, and guest teaching at various institutions and dance festivals throughout the country.

Shortly after Ms. Lopez retired from New York City Ballet in 1995, she freelanced with WNBC television as an on-air cultural arts reporter where she produced feature segments on the arts, artists, arts education and human-interest stories. While at WNBC, she was sent to Cuba to report on the island’s emerging cultural climate. Ms. Lopez’s segments featured the National Ballet of Cuba, Cuban visual artists, performing arts schools and the evolution of salsa.

Ms. Lopez is one of the founders of the Cuban Artists Fund, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is based on the belief that the Cuban artistic vitality and spirit needs to be nurtured. CAF helps support independent Cuban and Cuban-American artists in their various endeavors, and seeks to help build cross-cultural understanding through the arts.

Ms. Lopez is featured in the recently published book, Famous Hispanic Americans, published by Cobblehill Books, a division of Dutton Press.