During his tenure in Miami, Pedro Pablo Peņa was committed to seeing dance and the arts grow while preserving the legacy of traditional ballet. He established the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center, known as The White House, which houses the Cuban Classical Ballet, and is home to the International Ballet Festival. Arts classes and exhibits are under an entity called the Creation Arts Center.
On Saturday, June 9, the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami will present “Aurora’s Wedding,” a celebratory evening of dance at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. The evening honors and pays tribute to CCBM founder and artistic director Peņa, who passed away on March 24, 2018.
The multi-faceted organization is now in the capable, and experienced hands of newly appointed artistic director, Eriberto Jimenez, who worked with Peņa for over 30 years, first as a dancer and very soon, as assistant to Peņa. Given the title of Ballet Master since the inception of CCBM in 2006, for the past three years, Jimenez has taken on the responsibility of overseeing the complete administration and all aspects of running the Cultural Center.
A gala performance will contain choreographic works that Peņa was passionate about including Lecuona Suite with music by Ernesto Lecuona, the well known, Esmerelda Pas de Six and, Peņa’s last work, Habaneras choreographed by Jimenez and Peņa together. The evening will close with the traditional, Aurora’s Wedding, an encompassing feat of classical dance. Added to the program in featured roles will be the Cuban Prima Ballerina, Yolanda Correa, partnered by Sterling Baca, from Pennsylvania Ballet.
Jimenez, from Colombia, initially trained as a scholarship student under Peņa before becoming a dancer with CCBM. He immediately became ensconced in the workings of the ballet, enjoying not only the dancing, but overseeing the day to day happenings, running rehearsals, the administration and even taking on writing the grant applications that are so necessary in keeping an arts organization functioning in Miami.
Being the right hand man of Peņa was not always an easy position. It was a demanding and encompassing role, but one that Jimenez loved and was good at. He liked the work, the variety and most of all, he loved being surrounded by the world of dance, a world that he was passionate and committed to. Now, in the new role of artistic director, Jimenez is excited to continue the vision and direction of the organization that Peņa embraced, while adding his own knowledge and expertise.
“ The Cuban Classical Ballet has always been dedicated to more classical ballet. I want to keep that. I want to spend my energy and put more focus on the Center in growing our training programs; ballet, voice, theater, arts, I want to make a stronger foundation, to create more programs for kids and educate and excite the next generation,” said Jimenez.
“We have a wonderful following for our performances. Pedro had such a good relationship with the Latin community. I want to open the door more to a wider audience and a more diverse mix. Even for the Festival, I think people think that it is only a Latin Festival, but it is an International Ballet Festival. So I want to start making this more known.”
For this gala performance, Jimenez is gathering soloists and corp de ballet dancers from the International Dance Academy and the St. Lucie Ballet.
“Since this is a big ballet, they are helping me to make the corp (ensemble). I need more dancers for this performance, so I am doing a lot of traveling.” said Jimenez. “I eventually want to build our own school more to have a feeding system for the company, but it is always good to reach out to the community.”
In his new role, Jimenez has a lot of coals on the fire. Returning often to Colombia to teach, he would like to establish a stronger relationship there.
“I want to start a company in Colombia to bring principals and soloists from here and create more of a collaboration. I also want to choreograph, to invite choreographers here, and we want to do more things here at the house. We have a small stage outside and have done theater and small dance performances.” He laughs. “A lot of ideas, but it takes time.”
There are numerous possibilities yet to unfold as the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center continues to expand under the direction of Eriberto Jimenez.
“We do a lot of work here and we need people to know what we are bringing to the community and to the arts.”
The gala performance of “Aurora’s Wedding” is a first of many steps.
Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami Spectacular 2018 Season Annual Grand Gala Performance
Saturday, June 9 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 3313. Tickets available at ticketmaster.com or by calling the theater box office at: (305) 547-5414