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Tina Ramírez Ballet Hispánico Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 228

Scope and Contents

The Tina Ramírez papers are divided into three series. In addition to information regarding Ramírez’s career and the history and inner workings of the Ballet Hispánico during her time as its artistic director from 1970 to 2009, the collection contains instructional materials and reflections upon dance programs and routines, literature surrounding dance and performance, and original research regarding dance and ballet.

Given her thirty-year tenure as artistic director at the Ballet Hispánico, many of the materials in the collection pertaining to the organization will also reflect the work and career of Ramírez. However, early materials chronicling the life and career of Ramírez outside of the Ballet Hispánico are documented under the Personal series.

In the Personal series, researchers can find photographs, headshots, news clippings, awards, notebooks, and other materials from the 1940s to the late 2000s reflecting the life of Ramírez including her travels, international performances, her contributions to dance instruction, and her impact upon the cultural landscape surrounding classical, contemporary, and Spanish dance. Additionally, researchers can view personal correspondence between Ramírez and former students, cultural figures, and colleagues that reflect her influence. Throughout the collection, individual performances are documented through playbills, programs, and news clippings. Some of these materials focus specifically upon performances by Ramírez, but also included in the collection are playbills and programs related to performances by the Ballet Hispánico and individuals tangentially connected to Ramírez.

Organizational records, photographs of students, reviews of performances, and training materials for the Ballet Hispánico are documented in the series, Ballet Hispánico. Materials include correspondence regarding the hiring process for a new artistic director, minutes and agendas from meetings of the board of directors, photographs of students and performances, and news clippings including reviews of performances. Since the late 2000s, Ramírez was involved in the New 42nd Street Inc. as a Co-chair and minutes and organizational records from meetings of its board of directors which can be found in the Personal series.

In the Educational materials series, researchers can find instructional guides and pamphlets regarding dance programs and notes taken by Ramírez regarding the structure of youth dance programs, instructional techniques, as well as some original research into historical performances and stories. The amount of original research is not extensive, but does include photocopies of works as well as books and publications that discuss various elements of dance terminology, positions, performance, and Latin culture and history.

The files are arranged to reflect the order in which the materials were received with minimal physical arrangement undertaken to separate materials by topic and format.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-2009
  • Creation: 1930-2009


Conditions Governing Access

Audiovisual material is restricted due to fragile nature of analog formats.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyrights held by Tina Ramírez.

Biographical / Historical

Tina Ramírez is a renowned dancer, choreographer, and teacher of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent who founded the Ballet Hispánico in 1970 and acted as its artistic director for thirty-nine years.

Ernestina Ramírez was born on Nov. 7, 1929 in Caracas, Venezuela to José Ramirez, noted Mexican bullfighter known as Gaonita, and Gloria Cestero Diaz, a Puerto Rican homemaker and community leader. At the age of seven, she came to New York City with her mother, where she graduated from the Julia Richman High School. One of her early dance mentors was Lola Bravo, a grand dame of Spanish dance teachers in New York. After high school, she began her performing career touring the United States, Canada, and Cuba with the dance company of Frederico Rey, a famed theatrical costume designer.

In 1951, she was discovered by Xavier Cugat, noted Latin-American maestro, during an appearance at a nightclub in New York City who signed her to tour with his revue. During this time, Ramírez began to receive theater and television roles appearing in Broadway productions of Kismet and Lute Song, as well as in the television adaptation of Man of La Mancha.

After years of successful international touring, Ramírez set aside her performing career to continue the educational legacy of Lola Bravo who was retiring in 1963. This decision laid the foundation for her creation of the Ballet Hispánico School of Dance in 1970 which was dedicated to training children in classical, contemporary, and Spanish dance. In addition to being a founder, Ramírez served as the artistic director for the Ballet Hispánico for over thirty years, ultimately stepping down in 2009. Ramírez has since continued to be involved in the dance community serving on the board of The New 42nd Street as well as acting as Co-Chair for the New York City Department of Education Dance Curriculum Blueprint Committee.

Throughout her career, Ramírez has received many awards in recognition of her work as a professional dancer, educator, and producer and for her tremendous impact upon the field of dance. Notable awards she has received include the Dance Magazine Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, the Capezio Dance Award, New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and New York City Mayor’s Award of Honor for Arts and Culture. In 2005, Ramírez was awarded the nation’s highest culture honor, the National Medal of Arts, by the administration of President George W. Bush. Ramírez died at her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in September 2022 at the age of 92.


Ballet Hispanico “Black Slipper Ball 2009 – A Tribute to Tina Ramírez” program booklet, 2009


5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian

Metadata Rights Declarations


During the initial survey of the collection, it appeared that some of the folders originally housing the collection’s materials were damaging the document boxes that they were donated in. It was decided then that those materials along with other loose materials in the collection would be refoldered with their original names transferred to limit damage to the materials. In a few instances, the folder titles were changed only in cases where the names clearly did not relate to the materials contained within the folder.

While refoldering, the materials were also rehoused in hollinger boxes to replace the damaged document boxes. The materials were kept together physically as much as possible to attempt to preserve original order. In this process, however, items from one larger document box could not be fit into one hollinger, so in those cases, the materials were moved in their existing order into hollinger boxes with their division being dictated by space concerns of the hollinger.

Some materials such as the Tito Puentes record, oversized headshots of Tina Ramírez, a Proclamation from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and oversized diagrams of dance steps were moved into oversized boxes (OS 1 and OS 3) or flat files (OS 2). This move was done to prevent additional damage as they were actively being damaged due to their insufficiently sized containers.

To help researchers and others to locate the materials and establish intellectual control, the collection has been divided into three main series, “Personal”, “Ballet Hispánico”, and “Educational Materials”. A large portion of the collection consists of photographs, correspondence, news clippings, and other materials documenting Ramírez’s early days as a professional dancer and continuing through her almost forty year tenure as artistic director at Ballet Hispánico.

From her time as an artistic director and dance educator, Ramírez was involved in the operations of organizations such as the Ballet Hispánico as well as the New 42nd Street, Inc, and to a lesser extent, Jacob’s Pillow. Institutional records such as meeting agendas and minutes, correspondence, and guidelines as well as photographs of students and their performances from the time were described as “Personal”, and then further categorized as the sub-series “Organization”.

And lastly, throughout the collection, there are notes taken by Ramírez regarding dance instruction as well as materials collected by her regarding dance pedagogy, Latin American and Spanish cultural dance traditions, plays, musical scores, and other materials. Since these materials largely have to do with her research into performance as well as her insight and notes regarding dance instruction these materials have been described as the series, Educational Materials.

These three series encapsulate the majority of the materials in the collection and can provide a basic level of intellectual control. Due to the fact that minimal physical rearrangement was undertaken, some folders may contain individual items that belong to different series. For instances like these, the series description for the folder was ultimately chosen to reflect the thematic content of the majority of the items. While not ideal, this approach will hopefully steer researchers in the right direction while maintaining the original order of the materials throughout the collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Tina Ramírez in 2009. Papers were transferred from Ballet Hispánico to Centro at Ramírez's request.


Tina Ramírez Ballet Hispánico Papers
Brendan Enright
June 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Repository

Silberman Building, Hunter College
2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122
New York New York 10065

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.