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N.Y. Encyclopedia of Famous Puerto Ricans    

                                        

Chita Rivera

 

Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in Washington, D.C., on January 23, 1933, Chita’s parents were from Puerto Rico. Her father played clarinet and saxophone for the Navy Band; after his death when Chita was 7, her mother went to work at the Pentagon.
Young Conchita was a tomboy. To tone down her rambunctiousness, when she was 11, her mother enrolled her in the Jones-Hayward School of Ballet, a school run by an impressive pair of black women, Doris Jones and Claire Haywood. When Conchita was 15, a teacher from George Balanchine's School of American Ballet visited their studio. She was one of two students picked to audition in New York.
At the audition, Doris Jones calmed her student with a piece of advice. "Conchita, stay in your lane." Meaning, “Don't worry about the long bodies and blond ponytails lining up next to you for the auditions; be who you are!” Chita Rivera never forgot it. She was accepted on the basis of her audition and given a scholarship to the American School of Ballet by the legendary George Balanchine. Her teachers included some of the top American dancers of the century: Edward Villella, Allegra Kent and Maria Tallchief among them. Soon, however, the ballet world lost and Broadway gained a future star when the 17-year-old aspiring ballerina accompanied a friend to the auditions for “Call Me Madam.” It was Conchita who got the part! Other roles quickly followed in such shows as “Guys and Dolls," "Can-Can," “Seventh Heaven,” and "Mr. Wonderful" with Sammy Davis Jr.

LINKS:

Boricuas Hall Of Fame Home Page

Her Official Site

musicals101.com

kennedy-center.org


1961 Tony Award/Nominated for Supporting Actress(musical): Bye, Bye Birdie
1976 Tony Award/ Nominated for Best Actress (musical): Chicago
1981 Tony Award/ Nominated for Best Actress (musical): Bring Back Birdie
1983 Tony Award/ Nominated for Best Actress (musical): Merlin
1984  Tony Award for Best Actress (musical): The Rink
1984 The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress (musical): The Rink
1986 Tony Award/ Nominated for Best Actress (musical): Jerry's Girls
1993 Tony Award for Best Actress (musical): Kiss of the Spider Woman
1996 Top Honor at the Helen Hayes Awards: Kiss of the Spider Woman


Films and TV Appearances

1968 Sweet Charity

1978 Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
1978 Choreographed one film piece, entitled The End
1981 Pippin
1987 Mayflower Madam


Theater

1952 Call Me Madam
1955 Seventh Heaven
1956 Mr. Wonderful
1957 West Side Story
1960 Bye, Bye Birdie
1963 Zenda
1964 Bajour
1975 Chicago
1981 Bring Back Birdie
1983 Merlin
1984 The Rink
1986 Jerry's Girls
1988 Can-Can
1993 Kiss of the Spider Woman
1997 Chita & All That Jazz
2000 Anything Goes
2001 Venecia
2001 Caspar the Musical
2001 The Visit
2002 Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There

                  Saturday January 17, 2004