Alvin Ailey Principal Dancer Brings Her Dominican Sazón To The Stage

Belen Pereyra, 28, is a Dominican principal dancer entering her sixth season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, credited with popularizing modern dance since 1958.  The dance company has performed unique and captivating African American choreography for an estimated 26 million people in 71 countries across six continents.

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“I’m always a student at Ailey, and that’s refreshing,” Pereyra told Fox News Latino. “It’s a rigorous schedule and physically demanding with such diversity of movement, but I get to do what I love.”

Both of Pereyra’s parents were engineers in the Dominican Republic, but dreamed of a better life for themselves and their children. They decided to leave and migrate to the U.S. when Pereyra was only four-years old. With Dominican roots and a flavorful culture, she says her background listening to Latin music makes it easier to dance African music.

“I see lots of Latin influences in Ronald K. Brown’s work,” Pereyra told Latin Heat.  “He’s a tremendous choreographer and we’re now performing his GRACE, which feels very Afro-Cuba. When I perform it I feel like I’m doing a Merengue.”

Sisters know how to go there! #belenpereyra #andreweccles #flight #art #dance #AlvinAiley

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Successfully fulfilling her parents’ dreams of excelling in this country, she attended Boston Arts Academy on a full scholarship and graduated as valedictorian. Shortly after Pereyra started working for Alvin Ailey, until she finally built up the courage to audition for the company herself.

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“I would get three free classes a day. After getting up the courage to audition, I went into hardcore mode and began training,” she said. “I studied everything Ailey and killed my audition.”

In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded the Alvin Ailey Dance Company with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. “I’m so honored to be apart of this. The more I learn about Ailey’s impact, I think that’s what a career should feel like,” she said.

Belen Pereyra will be performing with the rest of the dance company at Lincoln Center June 8-19.