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"This is a passed down art form."

"Some dancers were Latino, some dancers were not. In order to reflect the American culture, you cannot be exclusive."

Cuban man in red shirt and black jacket

Born in Cuba and raised in New York City, Eduardo Vilaro moved to Chicago to pursue a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Arts at Columbia College after performing with Ballet Hispanico for nine years. In 1999, he founded Luna Negra Dance Theater, dedicated to showcasing the richness and diversity of Latino culture. Vilaro returned to Ballet Hispanico in 2009 to succeed its founder, Tina Ramirez, as Artistic Director.

February 24, 2017: Eduardo discusses his time in Chicago in detail, which includes his association with Columbia College as both a student and faculty member and his founding of Luna Negra Dance Theater in 1999. He reflects on his 10-year directorship, explaining his goals and vision for the company, his decision to leave, and the circumstances surrounding its demise in 2013.

"Vanessa [Valecillos] became my muse.

I did a lot of duets with her before the company formed."

"In the arts and in dance, it is in your training, it is in your experience, and it is in your performing that everything is connected... It's not just in a book."

"You have a network after more than a decade of working in the field, so I started calling up friends. 'Come make a piece... You can stay in my house.'"

"[Chicago] is still a stronghold for American modern dance."

"I was really interested in digging in to the culture and taking the essences and playing with them."

"This was a social justice movement for someone to give access to a community that's marginalized."

"So, I had before me the ability to take what I was trying to do and the impact would quadruple. And I would still live to see it."

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