Tina Ramirez, Founder of Ballet Hispánico, Dies at 93

Tina Ramirez, Founder of Ballet Hispánico, Dies at 93 belatina latine
Credit: Instagram @ballethispanico

On September 6, 2022, dance legend and founder of the Hispanic Ballet of New York, Tina Ramirez, died at the age of 93 surrounded by loved ones.

With a dance career expanding over 50 years, Ramirez became one of the most recognizable and cherished teachers in the dance community. 

Tina Ramirez was born in 1929 and is most known for having founded the Ballet Hispánico in 1970. Under the direction of Ramirez, over 45 choreographers created works for the company. Some very accomplished names started their careers on stage under the tutelage of Tina Ramirez, including Talley Beatty, who is considered to be one of the best African-American choreographers of all time; Ramón Oller, an award-winning dancer, choreographer, and director from Spain; and William Whitener, a  renowned American dancer, teacher, choreographer, and director, to name a few. These are just a handful of contexts to illustrate the versatility of Ramirez’s work as a teacher. 

Kate Lear, writer, arts advocate, and proud Board Chair of Ballet Hispánico, shared some thoughts on Ramirez: “Tina Ramirez was a bright light. She was an artist and activist who founded Ballet Hispánico to address structural inequities in the arts. From the moment I met her nearly twenty years ago, I knew I wanted to be part of the artistic movement she was passionately creating. Tina was fierce, brilliant, and completely her own person. She leaves behind a rich legacy of bringing dance, cultural connection, and transformation to students and communities throughout the world.” 

Born in Venezuela, Ramirez was the daughter of a Mexican bullfighter father and a Puerto Rican educator mother. Her mother was the founder of the first secular school for girls in Puerto Rico. The grace of her father’s craft and the care required for her mother’s career made a mark on Tina Ramirez – clearly evident by the elegance and passion she brought to her much celebrated, multi-decade career.

Everyone who worked closely with Ballet Hispánico’s founder has been deeply affected by her passing. Her accomplishments as a dancer and a dance teacher are unique to what anyone else has done in the history of the stage. Oftentimes, when people leave such an impact on their careers, it’s easy to forget the type of person that they were. 

However, that won’t be the case for Tina Ramirez. Her brilliance and personality were just as loved as her dance. 


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