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Evelyn Cisneros: 1959—: Ballerina

Improved Reputation While Adapting To Change

Throughout her career Cisneros has directed that warmth and kindness towards those less fortunate, particularly Hispanic girls. She has volunteered at both Girls, Inc. and Latinas y Que. "Just from watching her with the girls, you can see how she engages them," a fellow volunteer told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's not about doing her duty; it's because she genuinely cares about her community." Cisneros also reached out to Hispanic people suffering from AIDS when she joined the board of Project Open Hand in the 1980s. The organization delivers meals to people ill with AIDS and before Cisneros came on board they were having trouble gaining access to the Hispanic community. The former director of Project Open Hand told the San Francisco Chronicle, "When she delivered food, it went beyond nutrition. She radiated joy and brought a smile to people's faces."

In 1985 changes took place at the San Francisco Ballet that rocked the company and culminated in the replacement of Smuin as artistic director as well as the firing of several dancers. Newspapers were filled with stories about backstage bickering and new director Helgi Tomasson faced an uphill battle to keep the company going. Though she mourned the loss of Smuin, Cisneros remained above the fray. "One should not have to take sides," she told the San Francisco Chronicle. She concluded, "I have just tried to stay true to the dance." Though many believe that Tomasson purposefully snubbed her—she was cut from opening nights and not cast in roles that had been created for her—Cisneros did stay true to the dance and to the new director. Soon, Tomasson, like everyone else who knew her, was enchanted. "Evelyn has such a warm, beautiful smile," he told the San Francisco Chronicle. "You can't help but notice her right away, the moment she comes onstage. She has real charisma, a real gift not many people have." She and Tomasson went on to enjoy a prolific relationship and he created several roles for her.

Under the second director of her career, Cisneros began to embrace modern dance. Dance Magazine wrote, "One reason San Francisco Ballet has distinguished itself in recent years as a ballet company that can do modern—without looking like a ballet company doing modern—is its most distinguished classical ballerina; Cisneros has become its elemental, essential modern dancer." In that same article Tomasson said, "The contemporary work has been really good for her. It shows a side of her that she has great strength in and has been extremely musical in." In 1995 choreographer Val Caniparoli created Lambarena for her, a cutting-edge mix of African dance and classical ballet. It became one of her favorite pieces to perform. She has also worked with modern dance master Mark Morris and has performed at Massachusetts's famed modern dance festival, Jacob's Pillow.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Ciara Biography - Wrote Out Goals to Elizabeth David (1913–1992) BiographyEvelyn Cisneros: 1959—: Ballerina Biography - Began Dancing To Overcome Shyness, Debuted With The San Francisco Ballet, Improved Reputation While Adapting To Change