Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico Eduardo Vilaro will serve as Shenandoah Conservatory’s honored guest and speaker for the 2021/22 Conservatory Convocation at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1, in Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. Each year, Conservatory Convocation welcomes incoming and returning conservatory students with a dynamic lineup of music, theatre and dance performances showcasing the conservatory’s extraordinary student artists. The event will feature a special keynote address by Vilaro.
Vilaro was named Ballet Hispánico’s artistic director in 2009, becoming only the second person to head the company since its founding in 1970, and in 2015 was also named chief executive officer. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico’s legacy with a bold brand of contemporary dance that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape.
Vilaro’s philosophy of dance stems from a basic belief in the power of the arts to change lives, reflect and impact culture, and strengthen community. He considers dance to be a liberating, non-verbal language through which students, dancers and audiences of all walks of life and diverse backgrounds can initiate ongoing conversations about the arts, expression, identity and the meaning of community.
Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of 6, Vilaro’s own choreography is devoted to capturing the Latin American experience in its totality and diversity, and through its intersectionality with other diasporas. His works are catalysts for new dialogues about what it means to be an American. He has created more than 40 ballets with commissions that include the Ravinia Festival, Chicago Sinfonietta, Grant Park Festival, Lexington Ballet and Chicago Symphony.
A Ballet Hispánico dancer and educator from 1988 to 1996, he left New York, earned a master’s in interdisciplinary arts at Columbia College Chicago and then embarked on his own act of advocacy with a 10-year record of achievement as founder and artistic director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago, Illinois.
The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Vilaro received the Ruth Page Award for choreography in 2001; was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2016; and was awarded HOMBRE Magazine’s 2017 Arts & Culture Trailblazer of the Year. In 2019, he received the West Side Spirit’s WESTY Award, was honored by WNET for his contributions to the arts, and was the recipient of the James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award. In August 2020, City & State magazine included Vilaro in the inaugural Power of Diversity: Latin 100 list. In January 2021, Vilaro was recognized with a Compassionate Leaders Award from consulting group Compassionate Leaders Circle, given to leaders who are courageous, contemplative, collaborative, and care about the world they will leave behind. He is a well-respected speaker on such topics as diversity, equity and inclusion in the arts, as well as on the merits of the intersectionality of cultures and the importance of nurturing and building Latinx leaders.
Visit www.ballethispanico.org to learn more.