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Denver Post

Taste Of Hispanic Culture Ballet Concierto De Puerto Rico Performs 2 Works

By Glenn Giffin

October 19, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Denver Post. All Rights Reserved.

After living in New York City since birth and following a professional career with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Lolita San Miguel found herself in Puerto Rico, the home of her parents and husband.

'I thought I'd just drink pina coladas,' she said, 'and go to the beach.'

However, word got around of her abilities. She taught a master class for the Association of Dance Teachers in San Juan, 'and they suggested I start a company. That's how it started.'

Her company, the Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, just celebrated its 20th anniversary and will perform tonight at the Arvada Center.

The 22-member ensemble is so successful it tours extensively twice a year in addition to performing in its home territory three times a year. The school associated with it oversees 400 students. 'I can always use them, so I do 'Nutcracker' with 165 people,' she said.

For the Arvada program, the company will do two works, 'Carmen' and 'Latinissimo.' The former is something of a showcase for the company, San Miguel said. 'We have traveled with it to the Cairo Opera House in Egypt. We have performed it in the Caribbean and throughout the U.S. It's right up our alley. Of course, you know I worked at the Met Opera for 10 years, so I love the opera and this story.'

But perhaps a better showcase for the company is its 'Latinissimo,' which San Miguel described as 'a potpourri, let's say, or bringing together of Hispanic wonderful songs and dance. Of course, in a classical style, but as choreographed by Alberto Mendez, from Cuba.'

Besides serving the cultural life of Puerto Rico, San Miguel sees her company as 'ambassadors for Puerto Rico. It's amazing how many people say, 'Puerto Rico, where's that?' There's more to Puerto Rico than palm trees. We take any opportunity to bring Ballet Concierto to new audiences. It's wonderful for the company, especially when you live on a small island, to meet people and find out what they are doing and appreciate it.'

During the company's current tour, the ensemble comes to Colorado from Phoenix and will travel to Huntsville, Ala. As a measure of its ballet world status , such guests as Carlos Acosta, Angel Corella and Lorna Feijoo come in Latin solidarity and knowledge of the company's skill. 'Part of our mission is to encourage and promote Hispanic and Latino talent, whether choreographers, dancers, designers, composers. I would like people, when they think of Puerto Rico, that they know there's a good ballet company there.'


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