Lupe Serrano paved the way for Latino dancers

Chilean Lupe Serrano was the first Latina to be a prima ballerina of the American Ballet Theater. She stayed with the company until she retired in 1974. She died on January 16, 2023, aged 92, as a result of Alzheimer’s.

Daughter of the Spanish maestro Luis Martínez Serrano, little Lupe showed an interest in dance very early on, starting to study ballet almost immediately. When the family returned to Mexico, she was already 12 years old and studied with Nelsy Dambré and José Limón. At age 18, she toured Central America with Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso (her mentor even at the American Ballet Theater). She then moved to the United States, where she became a soloist with the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo, before, in 1953, being hired as a lead in ABT, making history.

At ABT, he worked with choreographers such as George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Jerome Robbins. In 1957, she married conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn, with whom she had Erica (and Veronica Lynn). In addition to her career as a dancer, she has been teaching since 1968, an activity she loved.

Lupe’s talent was undeniable, so much so that on the company’s tour of Russia she caught the attention of the legendary Rudolf Nureyev, with whom she danced after he fled to the west. Small and mighty, Serrano dazzled audiences with her technical virtuosity, indomitable strength, and exuberant stage persona. Her high jumps, agility, and pirouettes delighted her fans. Her Giselle and her Swan Lake are some of the highlights of his career. A legend that deserves all honors.

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