Ballet’s Latine Inspirations, Part 2

Written and researched by PNB Company dancer Kyle Davis

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are looking at some of the incredible Latino and Latina ballet dancers who have, and continue, to deeply impact the ballet industry by breaking barriers, inspiring others through representation, and giving back to their communities. Read on to learn about the many Latine artists who are performing today, and some who are particularly dear to Pacific Northwest Ballet. 

This impressive list of dance artists shines light on their individual accolades and career accomplishments, as well as showing where an aspiring artist might look for inspiration and Latine representation amongst the top ranked members of several notable ballet companies across the globe. 


Argentina’s Herman Cornejo was born in Mercedes, San Luis. Training in Buenos Aires before moving to New York at age 14, Cornejo joined American Ballet Theatre in 1999 and was promoted to principal in 2003. So far in Cornejo’s career, he has performed an incredibly diverse range of repertory with ABT, as well as appeared as a guest artist with numerous companies across the globe. Since 2012, Herman has been an artistic collaborator on numerous projects with famed ballerina Alessandra Ferri, was artistic director of the “Latin American Stars” Gala organized by the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, and has performed and choreographed for fundraising and awareness events surrounding cancer research, down syndrome, and poliomyelitis. Cornejo is also the founder and director of Herman Cornejo The State of the Arts which seeks to explore a tapestry of dance, theater, visual arts, music, and technology to stretch the boundaries of each artform and diversify audiences through education and accessibility initiatives. Continue to enjoy Herman Cornejo’s presence onstage globally and with American Ballet Theatre. 

Elisa Carrillo Cabrera was born in Texcoco, Mexico. After training at Escuela Nacional de Danza Clasica y Contemporarea and then at the English National Ballet School, Elisa joined Stuttgart Ballet, where she danced from 1999 to 2007, before joining Staatsballett Berlin. Achieving the rank of principal dancer in 2011, Elisa Carrillo Cabrera is much more than a brilliant dancer. For her global promotion of Mexican art and culture, Carrillo Cabrera has been recognized with the Medal of Fine Arts from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico and is a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO. Additionally, her foundation, created in 2012, provides training resources for Mexican ballet students, helps develop an audience for dance, and aims to raise the quality of dance in Mexico. The government of the State of Mexico created a scholarship in Carrillo Cabrera’s name to promote professional ballet education for students of Mexican origin. Carrillo Cabrera also directs and presents an annual gala performance in Mexico, which to this date has been enjoyed by over sixty thousand people – many of whom received tickets through her foundation, thus continuing the foundation’s mission to develop new audiences and make art more accessible. Elisa is an Ambassador of Culture for the State of Mexico, a winner of the Marius Petipa Award, and a winner of the Benois de la Danse. Additionally, she is co-artistic director of the Compañia Nacional de Danza Mexico and artistic director of the Sir Anton Dolin Foundation. Continue to enjoy Elisa Carrillo Cabrera’s performances across the globe and onstage with Staatsballett Berlin. 

The Royal Ballet ballerina, Marianela Núñez, is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. After training at Teatro Colón Ballet School and beginning her professional career at age 14 with the Teatro Colón, Núñez joined The Royal Ballet Upper School in 1997 before entering the company in 1998. By 2002, Marianela was a principal dancer. Núñez’s place as an iconic ballerina is indisputable, having won four Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards, the Konex de Platino for Best Dancer of the Decade, and an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. Many of her performances have been captured on DVD and serve as inspiration for young artists all over the world. Continue to enjoy Marianela Núñez onstage as a global guest artist and with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. 

Katia Carranza was born in Monterrey, Mexico. After graduating from Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza de Monterrey in 1996, Carranza joined Ballet de Monterrey as a soloist. Two years later, Katia joined Miami City Ballet, and in 2004, she was promoted to the rank of principal dancer. Carranza left Miami in 2006 to rejoin Ballet de Monterrey, continuing to dance for Miami City Ballet as a guest artist until her full-time return to the Florida-based company in 2017. Carranza has medaled at several international ballet competitions including the Concurso Nacional in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Concurso Internacional in Cuba, and the USA International Ballet Competition. Continue to enjoy Katia Carranza onstage with Miami City Ballet. 

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Karina González is a principal dancer with Houston Ballet. González trained at Escuela Ballet-Arte Fundación Gustavo Franklin and began her professional career with Ballet Nacional de Caracas. In 2005, Karina joined Tulsa Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet and moved through the ranks to principal before joining Houston Ballet as a soloist in 2010. Her promotion to principal dancer at Houston Ballet came in 2013, making her Houston Ballet’s first ever Latina principal ballerina. González has been featured on the covers of Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine, as well as being named “Best Dancer” by the Houston Press in 2013 and having made Top 30 Women’s honoree list in 2017. Karina has been featured in television marketing campaigns for Kimberly Clark and Honda and is seen in Ed Sheeran’s music video “Put It All On Me.” Additionally, González has received recognition from The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Continue to enjoy Karina González’s vibrance onstage as a guest artist in international galas and with Houston Ballet. 

Brazil’s Ingrid Silva was born in Rio de Janeiro and began her training at the Dançando Para Náo Dançar – a program designed to provide ballet training for young people who otherwise could not afford it. She later trained at the Escola de Dança Maria Olenewa and Centro de Movimento Debora Colker. At 17, Silva joined one of Brazil’s most prestigious dance companies, Grupo Corpo. In 2007, Ingrid moved to New York City to train at the Dance Theatre of Harlem summer course and stayed for the institution’s professional training program before joining the company’s community engagement project, Dancing Through Barriers. Silva joined Dance Theatre of Harlem full-time in 2013 and has since danced an impressive array of leading roles in both classical and contemporary repertory. Ingrid has been featured in media publications such as Vogue, Glamour, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Dance Magazine, People Magazine, and Health, and was the first African Brazilian on the cover of Pointe Magazine in 2017. Silva serves as a cultural ambassador for the United States and was invited to speak at the United Nation’s Social Good Summit. Additionally, she is a co-founder of Blacks in Ballet, which aims to highlight black ballet dancers, and founded podHER as a platform for creating safe environments for individuals to share their history without judgement and claim their own path. She has appeared in media campaigns for Nike, Dove, and AT&T, was featured in Facebook’s 2020 Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month campaign, and was honored at the Harvard University Latina Empowerment & Development Conference with the Latina Trailblazer Award for her many accomplishments. Continue to enjoy Ingrid Silva’s performances as a guest artist and with Dance Theatre of Harlem. 

Sasha De Sola, born in Winter Park, Florida, to Venezuelan parents, trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. on full scholarship. In 2006, De Sola joined San Francisco Ballet as an apprentice and has since been promoted through the ranks to principal dancer. Sasha has been awarded medals and prizes at the World International Ballet Competition, USA International Ballet Competition, and the International Ballet Competition in Varna. De Sola has been invited to perform in galas across the globe, and in 2020 she was nominated as Dance Europe’s Dancer of the Year. In 2018, a bilingual illustrated children’s book based on her life was published, titled On Tiptoes – De Puntitas. In 2019, De Sola launched The Ascendant, a charity initiative which released a dance-inspired jewelry line where all profits benefited non-profit organizations San Francisco Ballet and Dancin Power – a Bay Area based organization that teaches interactive dance classes to hospitalized children one-hundred percent free of charge. Sasha has been featured in advertising campaigns for brands such as Free People and Dr. Scholl’s and can been seen as the leading actress in short films Dancing with Nureyev and Sirens Tango. Continue to enjoy watching Sasha De Sola onstage in international galas and with San Francisco Ballet. 

Beginning his ballet training at the age of 10, Yonah Acosta was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. After completing his studies at the Cuban National Ballet School, Acosta joined the National Ballet of Cuba before joining the English National Ballet in 2011. While dancing with English National Ballet, Acosta won both the Emerging Dancer Competition and the People’s Choice Award. He was promoted to principal dancer with the company in 2014. Other awards won by Acosta include a gold medal at the Shanghai International Ballet Competition, Grand Prix prize at the International Ballet Competition in Cuba, a silver medal at the Beijing Ballet Competition, and two Mr. Virtuoso Awards from the International Ballet Festival Dance Open in 2011 and 2012. In 2017, Acosta joined Bayerisches Staatsballett, in Munich, Germany, as a principal dancer. Yonah is the nephew of Carlos Acosta, artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Continue to watch Yonah Acosta’s performances all around the world and with Bayerisches Staatsballett. 

Osiel Gouneo was born in Matanzas, Cuba, and trained at the Cuban National Ballet School. Gouneo joined the National Ballet of Cuba in 2008, and was promoted to principal dancer in 2011, after which he spent three years performing with the Norwegian National Ballet. In 2016, Gouneo joined Munich’s Bayerisches Staatsballett as a principal dancer. Osiel has appeared on many of the most notable stages around the world including the London Coliseum, the Bolshoi Theatre, New York’s Lincoln Center, and the Paris Opera. Outside of performances with Bayerisches Staatsballett, Osiel has wowed audiences as a guest principal with the Paris Opera Ballet, the English National Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and at countless festivals and galas. For recognition of his skills, Gouneo has won gold medals from the Cuban Grand Prix and the Beijing International Ballet Competition, a silver medal from the International Ballet Competition in Varna, and was named Best Newcomer on the international dance scene at the annual Positano Awards. In 2020, Osiel founded OG Art & Productions – serving as the company’s artistic director – mixing fashion, storytelling, and dance to engage and move diverse audiences. Continue to enjoy spectacular performances from Osiel Gouneo across the globe and with Bayerisches Staatsballett. 

Born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, Isaac Hernández trained under his father, Hector Hernández, before attending The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. Upon graduating, Hernández briefly joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company before moving across the United States to dance for San Francisco Ballet in 2008. Isaac was promoted to soloist at San Francisco Ballet, and in 2012 he moved to Amsterdam’s Dutch National Ballet, becoming a principal with the company the following season. In 2015, Hernández joined the English National Ballet at the company’s top rank, and in 2022, he returned to San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer. Isaac has earned the Benois de la Danse award, the Alexandra Radius Award for Most Outstanding Dancer, the Medal of Fine Arts from the President of Mexico, and a gold medal at the USA International Ballet Competition, among other awards and honors. He has performed as a guest artist with many of the world’s greatest ballet companies, was the first ballet dancer in the world to make the cover of Forbes Magazine, and is the artistic director of DESPERTARES – the largest annual ballet performance in Latin America. Working with his sister and brother, fellow San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Esteban Hernández, they founded Soul Arts Productions in 2014, a company that produces shows and dance related projects to promote ballet in Mexico. Continue to watch inspiring performances from Isaac Hernández at San Francisco Ballet and beyond. 

Dayesi Torriente is originally from Havana and began her training at Centre Pro Danza under the tutelage of Laura Alonso, daughter of Alicia Alonso, before joining the Cuban National Ballet School in 2000. In 2009, Torriente joined Alicia Alonso’s National Ballet of Cuba, achieving the rank of principal dancer in 2015. A year later, Dayesi moved to the United States to join Philadelphia Ballet where she spent one year as a soloist before being promoted to principal dancer in 2017. Torriente has medaled in both national and international ballet competitions and has been seen onstage in numerous countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, and South Africa. Continue to watch Dayesi Torriente onstage with Philadelphia Ballet. 

Born in Curitiba, Brazil, Nayara Lopes received her dance training at Brazil’s School of Theatre Dance Guaira and New York City’s American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Lopes began her career in 2010, dancing for Orlando Ballet II, before joining the National Ballet of Canada as an apprentice in 2011. That same year Lopes won two prestigious awards from the Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition. Nayara returned to New York to join Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she performed for three years, and in 2016, Lopes joined the corps de ballet of Philadelphia Ballet. At Philadelphia Ballet, Nayara received promotions in 2018 and 2019, before achieving the rank of principal dancer in 2021. Continue to enjoy stunning performances from Nayara Lopes with Philadelphia Ballet. 

Cuban ballet dancer Arian Molina Soca began his training when he was ten years old at the Alfonso Pérez Isaac Vocational School of Art. Originally from Matanzas, Arian moved to Havana to complete his training at the Cuban National Ballet School. Upon graduation, he joined the National Ballet of Cuba in 2010, and under the leadership of Alicia Alonso he rose to the rank of principal dancer in 2012. Arian joined Philadelphia ballet as a principal dancer in 2015. His performance career has taken him to stages all over the world, including China, Spain, South Africa, and Russia, where he performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in honor of Alicia Alonso’s 90th birthday. Additionally, Molina Soca is a notable photographer and is considered one of best contemporary dancers to have trained at the Cuban National Ballet School. Continue to enjoy Arian Molina Soca as he performs with Philadelphia Ballet.  

Mayara Pineiro was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, receiving her ballet training from the Cuban National Ballet School. Pineiro began her professional career as a soloist with the National Opera of Bucharest before joining the Milwaukee Ballet in 2012. In 2014, Mayara joined Philadelphia Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet and within two years had achieved the rank of principal dancer. Mayara has medaled at the International Ballet Competition in Cuba, the Danza & Mare Competition in Italy, and the Youth American Grand Prix, and she has been showcased heavily in both Dance Magazine and Pointe Magazine. Additionally, Pineiro was seen in Gap’s 2016 Fit Fall campaign, and her path from Cuba to the United States is featured in the 2014 documentary Secundaria by Mary Jane Doherty. Continue to watch Mayara Pineiro perform with Philadelphia Ballet.  

Brazilian dancer Renan Cerdeiro was born in Rio de Janeiro. He began his training at the Escola de Dança Alice Arja, and after being selected as a finalist at the 2008 Prix de Lausanne, he was awarded a scholarship to complete his training at the Miami City Ballet School. Cerdeiro went on to join Miami City Ballet and was promoted to principal dancer in 2013. Renan has performed on notable stages across the globe including New York City Center, Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 2011, Cerdeiro was named “Top 25 Artists to Watch” by Dance Magazine, and his performance of George Balanchine’s Square Dance is immortalized on film as part of the PBS Great Performances special. Continue to watch Renan Cerdeiro onstage with Miami City Ballet. 

Nathalia Arja was born in Rio de Janeiro and began her dance education at a school run by her mother. At 14 years of age, Arja began dancing professionally in Brazil, during which time she participated in several ballet competitions being award scholarships to Teatro Colón, El Ballet De Santiago, Joffrey Ballet School, Canada’s National Ballet School, and Miami City Ballet School. In 2009, Nathalia joined Miami City Ballet as an apprentice, and after moving up through the ranks she was named principal dancer in 2020. Arja has been chosen to dance leading roles in works by many of the world’s greatest choreographers in both classical and contemporary repertory. Continue to watch Nathalia Arja’s performances with Maimi City Ballet. 

From Joinville, Santa Catarina, the Brazilian dancer Jovani Furlan began his dance studies at The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil. After competing in the 2010 USA International Ballet Competition, Furlan was offered a full scholarship to train at the Miami City Ballet School. In 2012, Jovani joined Miami City Ballet, reaching the rank of principal dancer in 2017. Two years later, Furlan joined New York City Ballet as a soloist, and was promoted to principal in 2022. Furlan is a notable interpreter of the rarely performed solo from George Balanchine’s Episodes. Continue to enjoy Jovani Furlan onstage with New York City Ballet. 

Mexican ballet dancer Esteban Hernández began his training with his father in his hometown of Guadalajara. At the age of 12, Hernández moved to Philadelphia to train at The Rock School for Dance Education, then completed his training at The Royal Ballet School in London. In 2013, Esteban joined San Francisco Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet, moving up to the company’s highest rank in 2019. During the course of his career, Hernández has won gold medals at the Youth America Grand Prix competition, a Jerome Robbins Foundation Award, a National Youth Award from former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, and the Latino Spirit Award from the California Latino Legislative Caucus. Along with his sister and brother, fellow San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Isaac Hernández, he is a founder of Soul Arts Productions. Esteban also serves as an artistic consultant for Soul Arts Productions. Hernández continues to give back and support his home community by teaching for the free ballet schools his parents opened in underprivileged communities in Jalisco, Mexico. Continue to watch Esteban Hernández onstage with San Francisco Ballet and abroad. 

Mayara Magri was born in Brazil and trained in Rio de Janeiro. After winning a gold medal at the Youth American Grand Prix competition, and later becoming a prize winner at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne, Magri finished her training on scholarship at The Royal Ballet School. In 2012, Magri joined The Royal Ballet and steadily received promotions, achieving the highest rank of principal dancer in 2021. Off the stage, Mayara serves as a brand ambassador to bring awareness to causes she believes in. Continue to be inspired by Mayara Magri’s performances at The Royal Ballet. 

Born in Mexico to Cuban parents, Cesar Corrales was raised in Canada. His parents, both professional ballet dancers, began his training before Corrales furthered his studies at Canada’s National Ballet School. As a young artist, Corrales was cast in the starring role in the Chicago and Toronto productions of Billy Elliot the musical. In 2014, Cesar joined American Ballet Theatre Studio Company before moving to London to join English National Ballet where Corrales was promoted to principal dancer in 2017. The following season Corrales joined The Royal Ballet and was promoted to the rank of principal dancer in 2021. Cesar has won the top awards from the Youth American Grand Prix competition, English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer Award, and the National Dance Award for Outstanding Male Performance. Continue to watch Cesar Corrales onstage at Covent Garden with The Royal Ballet. 

Roman Mejia was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He began his ballet training with his parents, both former dancers – his father, Peruvian dancer Paul Mejia, had danced for New York City Ballet. Eventually, Mejia moved his training to the School of American Ballet – the same school both his parents and his grandmother attended. Mejia joined the School of American Ballet’s parent company, New York City Ballet, as an apprentice in 2017 and has moved up the ranks, achieving principal dancer in 2023. Mejia has appeared in notable projects such as Twyla Tharp’s TWYLA NOW, Tiler Peck’s Artists at the Center at New York City Center, and was named Vail Dance Festival’s Artist in Residence in 2022. Roman was also a recipient of a Princess Grace Foundation Dance Fellowship and was named by Dance Magazine as one of their “25 to Watch”. Continue to see Roman Mejia wow audiences at New York City Ballet.


Carla Körbes is a Brazilian artist hailed by the New York Times as “a ballerina that comes along once in a lifetime.” Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Körbes began training with local instructors and, at the age of eleven, at Ballet Vera Bublitz. After meeting Pacific Northwest Ballet’s artistic director Peter Boal – then a principal dancer with New York City Ballet – Körbes left Brazil for New York City Ballet’s affiliated school, the School of American Ballet. 

In 1999, Carla joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice, being promoted to the corps de ballet the following season and to the rank of soloist in 2005. That same year, Peter Boal became artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Körbes joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a soloist and was promoted to principal dancer in 2006. During her decade long career with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Carla performed numerous ballets by many of the brightest choreographers and starred in the leading roles of most of ballet’s classical repertory. After taking her final bow from Pacific Northwest Ballet, Körbes quickly shifted into leadership roles and positions to pass her knowledge to the next generation of artists. 

In 2015, Carla became associate director of L.A. Dance Project and began teaching at The Colburn School in Los Angeles. Körbes has more recently served as a professor of ballet at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, appears regularly as an international guest teacher, and is available for one-on-one ballet mentorship and coaching. In 2023, it was announced Carla Körbes was joining the pre-professional division faculty of American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Pacific Northwest Ballet company artists, school students, and audience members were lucky to have enjoyed so many brilliant moments with Carla and look forward to watching her continued impact on the world of dance. 

For nearly twenty years Lindsi Dec wowed Seattle audiences and inspired the next generation of dancers with her exquisite lines and athleticism. Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, Dec trained in jazz, tap, and lyrical before choosing to focus her studies on ballet after watching a performance of Miami City Ballet dancing George Balanchine’s Rubies – a ballet Dec shone brightly in throughout her professional career. After receiving formal training at the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C., Lindsi finished her training on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. 

In 2001, Dec joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice, under the direction of founding artistic directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, being promoted to the rank of corps de ballet in 2002. Spotted as a stand-out talent by Pacific Northwest Ballet’s current artistic director, Peter Boal, Lindsi moved up in the company ranks – becoming a principal dancer in 2014. Throughout her time at PNB, Lindsi Dec was known for supporting and championing her colleagues and often acting as a mentor to young artists beginning their careers with the company. For many young Latine artists in the company, Dec’s Mexican heritage was an inspiring facet of the minimal Latine representation that existed in the company at that time.  

Dec retired from Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2020. Since 2017, Dec and her husband, former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Karel Cruz, have operated their dance wear line, Solu, and together are the founders and directors of San Antonio based dance school DeCruz Ballet. We look forward to watching as Lindsi Dec continues to support and mentor young artists in Texas, as she had for so long in Seattle.  

Karel Cruz is a Cuban ballet star whose brilliance Seattle audiences enjoyed for the sixteen years he danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Originally from Holguin, Cuba, Cruz received his ballet training from Cuba’s Escuela Nacional de Arte. After dancing professional for two years with the National Ballet of Cuba, Cruz joined Ballet Clásico de Cámara in Venezuela in 1998, and a year later joined Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas. Having desired to perform on larger stages, Cruz moved to the United States to receive an additional year of training at The Rock School for Dance Education. 

In 2002, Cruz joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet, and by 2009, he had achieved the rank of principal dancer. Until his retirement from Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2018, Karel was known for his refined classical technique, his effortless partnering, and his ease on stage in both classical and contemporary repertory. Cruz remains a role model for many dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet. 

After leaving Seattle, Cruz joined The University of Oklahoma as a ballet professor before relocating to San Antonio, Texas, with his family, including his wife and former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Lindsi Dec, to open their school DeCruz Ballet. During his time as a principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Karel Cruz offered countless morsels of knowledge to upcoming artists in the company. It is exciting to know a new generation of artists will grow up with Karel Cruz as their teacher. 

To learn more about the Latine artists of today’s Pacific Northwest Ballet check back soon for a post written by Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist and The Seattle Project’s founding artistic director, Amanda Morgan. 

Read Ballet’s Latine Inspirations, Part 1

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