By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service
The renowned Ballet Hispánico visited the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA in Maywood on Tuesday, bringing arts education to Southeast L.A. County residents as part of an initiative with California State University, Los Angeles.
Community Arts Partnership LA is a collaboration between Cal State LA and Ballet Hispánico, the nation’s premier Latino dance organization, featuring community workshops and classes, annual performances by the internationally acclaimed dance company, arts integration classes for public schools and interdisciplinary courses at the university.
The March 20 workshop in Maywood was a convergence of Community Arts Partnership LA and Achieve LA, Cal State LA’s initiative with the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles to create pathways to higher education in historically underserved communities.
“Our partnerships with the YMCA and Ballet Hispánico are an important part of Cal State LA’s mission of engagement, service, and the public good,” Cal State LA President William A. Covino said. “We are pleased to be collaborating with these two organizations to help enrich our communities.”
Children formed a circle around a brightly painted room inside the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA, stomping their feet and raising their arms in time as Ballet Hispánico Community Arts Partnerships education manager Gabriela Estrada demonstrated dance steps to the enthusiastic gathering.
The students and Estrada were greeted by Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA Executive Director Patricia Renteria, Cal State LA Executive Vice President and YMCA of Metropolitan L.A. Board Member Jose A. Gomez, Cal State LA Vice President for University Advancement Janet S. Dial and Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs Associate Director Raquel Beltran, who is also a board member of the Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative.
“The partnership with Cal State LA and Ballet Hispánico gives these kids an opportunity to learn something new and expand their horizons,” Renteria said. “This brings the arts to their neighborhood and their community.”
Ballet Hispánico’s Community Arts Partnerships program has been serving thousands for almost 50 years, pairing highly trained dancers, choreographers and teaching artists with students, educators, dance audiences and the general public in the guided exploration of diverse education activities.
Ballet Hispánico brings individuals and communities together to celebrate and explore Latino cultures through dance. The organization’s founder, National Medal of Arts recipient Tina Ramirez, sought to give voice to the Hispanic experience and break through stereotypes. Today Ballet Hispánico is led by Eduardo Vilaro, an acclaimed choreographer and former member of the company, whose vision of social equity, cultural identity and quality arts education for all drives its programs.
“Dance is about partnerships and Cal State LA is the perfect dance partner for Ballet Hispánico,” Vilaro said. “Cal State LA’s vision for service pairs well with our vision of access for all communities. We are excited to bring the joy of Latino dance and culture as a catalyst for engagement and learning.”
Achieve LA leverages existing Cradle to Career Success Initiative programs at four YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles locations to provide educational opportunities, inform youth about the college admissions process and prepare them to enroll at a university. Youth who participate in the initiative and meet minimum university requirements will be guaranteed admission to Cal State LA.
Achieve LA is the first program of its kind at any YMCA. The program is offered at the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA, as well as the Crenshaw Family YMCA, Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA location and Weingart YMCA Wellness and Aquatic Center in South Los Angeles.
Achieve LA was introduced to the Southeast Los Angeles community in November by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and university and YMCA officials during a conference hosted by organizations including the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA and the California Community Foundation.
“Cal State LA is committed to working with Speaker Rendon, Ballet Hispánico and the YMCA to create artistic and educational opportunities for our youth and help them succeed through higher education,” Gomez said.
The Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State LA is hosting Ballet Hispánico on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. for the dance company’s “En Familia” performance, which will feature excerpts from its diverse repertory and a Q&A with the dancers. Visit the Luckman website for tickets.
Photos: Above, Ballet Hispánico Community Arts Partnerships education manager Gabriela Estrada demonstrates dance steps to children at the Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA. Bottom, from left to right, Cal State LA Vice President for Advancement Janet S. Dial, Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, Ballet Hispánico's Gabriela Estrada and Southeast-Rio Vista YMCA Executive Director Patricia Renteria with children at the dance workshop. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.