Celebrating trailblazing Latina leaders, Ballet Hispánico's Carnaval Gala on May 15 at The Plaza Hotel raised more than $1 million in support of the organization's artistic, educational and community outreach programs in New York City, across the United States and around the world. This includes the creation of new Company works, scholarships for students at the renown Ballet Hispánico School of Dance, and numerous community arts and educational programs.
Ballet Hispánico honored legendary actress and EGOT winner Rita Moreno with the Toda Una Vida Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by actress Gina Rodriguez, and Pinnacle Group Chairman and CEO Nina Vaca with the Nuestra Inspiración Award, presented by Ralph de la Vega, the former Vice Chairman of AT&T Inc. and CEO of Business Solutions & International.
Gina Rodriguez, the Golden Globe-nominated star of the CW comedy series Jane the Virgin, praised Ms. Moreno's extraordinary career that has inspired generations of Latino performers and artists. "We are in the presence of greatness," Ms. Rodriguez said. "We are in the presence of a woman who not only acts, sings, dances, wins an Oscar, a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy - but an artist who changed the world with her art."
"I want to thank Ballet Hispánico for this wonderful honor and a truly amazing evening," Ms. Moreno said after accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award. "As I watched the beautiful babies of the School of Dance perform, it made me go back a long time ago in Puerto Rico. Back then, there were no wonderful organizations like Ballet Hispánico. Can you imagine if I had had the advantage of being one of the little girls we saw tonight, being supported and encouraged in arts education? Especially, especially for immigrant children!"
When introducing Nuestra Inspiración Award winner Nina Vaca, Mr. de la Vega cited her tremendous success in the business world as well as her efforts to encourage and support other women, particularly Latinas. "Nina is only satisfied when she is reaching back to help others advance," he said.
"I started out with $200, working out of my bedroom," Ms. Vaca said after receiving her award. "Ten years later, I was running one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States. Our country's girls and young women need to know that their American dream is possible."
"The fact that our inspirational honorees, Nina and Rita, and presenters, Gina and Ralph, all lived a version of Ballet Hispánico's mission in their own lives added such dimension and gravitas to this glorious Gala," said Kate Lear, Ballet Hispánico Board Chair. "Their stories put a personal face of the ongoing importance of the organization's work."
"The mission of Ballet Hispánico is more important and exciting than ever before," said Eduardo Vilaro, Ballet Hispánico Artistic Director and C.E.O. "We are a constant standard bearer for a vision of diversity and inclusion and have been so for forty-seven years. We know that art can heal and change the world. That is what we celebrated at the Gala; that is what we do every day and night."
ABOUT BALLET HISPÁNICO
America's premier Latino dance organization for more than 45 years, Ballet Hispánico brings communities together to celebrate and explore Latino cultures and the shared human experience through dance. Founded by National Medal of Arts recipient Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispánico has been led since 2009 by Artistic Director & CEO Eduardo Vilaro, who has infused the organization's legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America's changing cultural landscape. Through performances of its internationally-acclaimed Company, innovative dance training programs, and community education activities that inspire individuals of all ages and backgrounds, Ballet Hispánico brings the joy of dance and Hispanic culture to the world.