Lopez in Circus Polka. PC Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

Lourdes Lopez Just Honored Robbins By Dancing A Role He Originated

When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."

But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.


They said yes, setting Lopez on track to be the first woman the Trust has ever allowed to perform the role, which she did this past weekend.

Lopez in Circus Polka. PC Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

In Circus Polka, which Robbins created in 1972 for NYCB's Stravinsky Festival, the Ringmaster leads a group of young girls through a series of simple ballet steps. "There are pictures of Jerry in this role looking so handsome and joyful onstage," Lopez says. "The Ringmaster is someone who is very proud to be out there showing off these kids. It's adorable and heartwarming and puts a huge smile on your face."

Lopez in Circus Polka. PC Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

Though the role doesn't require much dancing, Lopez admitted to having butterflies after many years away from the stage. And it's nice to know that even she struggles with counting Stravinsky: "The counts aren't systematic in any way. That was my biggest challenge."

She's also made some new friends in the process: The 50+ young MCB school students featured in Circus Polka. "Now whenever they see me they're like 'Hi, Ms. Lopez!' I've become their buddy."

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Yes, It *Is* Possible to Build Body Confidence As a Dancer. Here Are 6 Tips

It's true. Everyone's looking at your body. In performance, it's your instrument—which can do amazing and sometimes superhuman things. In an audition, it's really the only information that hiring directors and choreographers have about you. Then there are the hours of class you spend scrutinizing yourself and what your body is capable of in the mirror.

This constant focus can make it challenging to develop body confidence, says Dr. Toby Diamond, consulting psychologist for the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. "It's never easy, especially when you consider that we also value facility, like excellent turnout and perfect feet, beyond beauty, and both can be out of your control."

So how can you become resilient enough to accept all the judgment that comes with a dance career?

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