Evelyn Cisneros: The First Hispanic Prima Ballerina
Evelyn Cisneros enchanted audiences for almost 25 years as the prima ballerina of the San Francisco ballet.
This amazing dancer with Mexican roots has broken barriers as a female dancer of Spanish-speaking origin. She’s attracted the attention of choreographers and others in many corners of the world with her poetic movements and flawless technique.
Keep reading to discover more about Evelyn Cisneros, her dancing talent, legacy, and contributions to Hispanic society.
The Early Years of Evelyn Cisneros
Evelyn Cisneros was born on November 18, 1959 in Long Beach, California. Her parents raised her in Huntington Beach. Both her mother and father were originally from Mexico and were migrant workers.
Evelyn’s parents had strong involvement and presence in their Hispanic community. Evelyn Cisneros and her brother were taught at a young age to embrace and honor their heritage.
Evelyn Cisneros was extremely shy as a young girl. She would often hide when in public and her peers considered her an outcast.
Evelyn Cisneros recalls her first choir recital and how she froze during her performance. Her first reaction was to cover her face. What came next in her life would lead her to discovering a new talent. In fact, she would change the future of American ballet and dance!
When she was 8 years old, Evelyn’s mother signed her up for ballet classes. She didn’t know it then, but her life was about to change drastically.
Her mom intended for dancing to help Evelyn Cisneros to overcome her shyness. As a result, Evelyn fell in love with dancing and used it as a form of art and expression.
Evelyn Cisneros was the only Hispanic or Mexican-American person in her ballet class. She was extremely committed and dedicated. She had a strict schedule in which she divided her time between school, ballet lessons, track, volleyball, basketball, and softball.
When she was 13, it became too much to handle. Evelyn Cisneros had to choose between ballet and sports. Ultimately, she chose to focus on her passion for dancing.
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Evelyn Cisneros’ Ballerina Career
Once Evelyn Cisneros decided to pursue a career in dance, her passion, conviction, and fire started to show. She would leave school early and skip her lunch break. She rode the bus an hour and a half to get to her ballet academy, where she rehearsed for hours. She finished her days catching up on her homework at home.
Evelyn Cisneros also devoted her weekends to rehearsing and signed up for ballet summer camps. She became unstoppable and had immense support from her family and her first dance teacher. Her mom even took on a second job as a receptionist at her dance academy to cover the cost of her classes.
In the summer of 1974, at the age of 15, Evelyn Cisneros got a scholarship to the School of American Ballet. In 1976, she went on to do an internship at the San Francisco Ballet, where she later became an official member.
Evelyn Cisneros’ Accomplishments
Evelyn Cisneros danced for the San Francisco Ballet for 23 years. She had pretty much all the starting roles in the academy’s catalog. She was the prima ballerina and star of Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Romeo and Juliet, among other enchanting shows.
Her first appearance as prima ballerina took place when she replaced a dancer who had been injured. Amazingly, Evelyn learned the choreography in just five hours. After leaving a big impression on the main choreographers and instructors, Evelyn became the ballet company’s favorite dancer.
After many changes in the San Francisco Ballet, Evelyn Cisneros learned to work with a different director and turned her focus to modern dance. Her contemporary style showed a new cutting-edge technique full of emotion and distinguished movements.
Evelyn Cisneros retired in 1999 at the age of 40 to focus on her family. Her final performance was before the mayor of San Francisco and other important figures. She graced audiences one last time with her enchanting performance and was bid farewell with a standing ovation.
Evelyn continues her work in dance today as the director of the Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy.
Evelyn Cisneros’ Legacy
Evelyn Cisneros was the recipient of awards throughout her career. Her biggest accomplishment was becoming the first Hispanic Prima Ballerina. This title has only been given to 11 women. She represented Hispanic women in the United States by showcasing her own talent, tenacity, and drive.
During her career, she dedicated much of her time to less fortunate Hispanic and Latina girls. She worked as a volunteer in community organizations and cares authentically for her Hispanic community. She has also supported AIDS organizations and food safety initiatives.
Evelyn’s community activism has also gained her recognition and numerous awards. She has graced the covers of Dance Magazine, Ballet News, and Hispanic Magazine.
Her life and career deserve recognition and honor. In ballet and dance, Evelyn Cisneros went where no Hispanic woman had gone before. She is deeply loved and admired by the Hispanic community and is a role model for many.
Like Evelyn Cisneros, Hispanic women continue to shake things up and inspire others. If you like this article, this inspiring list of 13 Famous Hispanic Women in History Who Made Enormous Impact is also worth a read.
Hispanic Impact is Bound to Keep Growing
The achievements of Evelyn Cisneros and other Hispanic figures continue to shape society today. Hispanic people who’ve become successful and influential like Evelyn are living proof of the opportunities speaking Spanish can bring you.
Did you know that the United States is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world? There are close to 41 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S. today, and this number is guaranteed to keep increasing. By learning Spanish, you expand your communication skills to new possibilities beyond your imagination.
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