Herman Cornejo in Twyla Tharp's In The Upper Room

Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Former ABT Standout Erica Cornejo Joins Brother Herman Onstage for a Special Performance

In September 2004, a pair of siblings graced the Dance Magazine cover. Inside, the accompanying story wrote, "When the Cornejos dance, it's never merely a variation—it's a complete performance."


A Dance Magazine cover featuring the Cornejos leaping among illustrated planets and stars

The brother and sister from Buenos Aires were winning over American Ballet Theatre fans, garnering "fervent applause and almost as fervent reviews," wrote Hanna Rubin.

Erica was beloved for her musical phrasing and easy jumps, while Herman won over audiences with his technical brilliance and elegant lines. Both oozed charisma onstage.

But two years after the story came out, Erica left New York City to join Boston Ballet as a principal, and fans lost the ability to see the pair onstage together. Until now.

Although she retired from performing in 2017 and now directs Integrarte ballet school in Boston, Erica is making a special return to the ABT stage on October 26 to dance a pas de deux with Herman in celebration of his 20th anniversary with the company.

The piece holds extra significance for the two dancers: The Cornejos first performed El Chamuyo at a gala for Argentina held at the Metropolitan Opera House's grand tier in 1998. At the time, they were members of ABT star Julio Bocca's touring company, Ballet Argentino. So while in New York for the performance, they took company class at ABT—and were quickly asked to join the Studio Company. Now, their story is coming full circle, celebrating a milestone with the same work that brought them to the company in the first place.

The special evening will also see Herman dancing the title role in Apollo (his New York debut) and a leading role in Twyla Tharp's new A Gathering of Ghosts. We expect nothing less than "fervent applause."

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

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Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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