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Grooming the future.

A good many young Hispanic ballet dancers in Los Angeles look to Francisco Martinez as a mentor and role model. Martinez is artistic director of the Francisco Martinez Dancetheatre, which recently marked its twenty-third anniversary at Hollywood's Ford Amphitheatre. But the kids know him from Plaza de la Raza of East Los Angeles, where, since 1988, he has directed a free ballet program for children of low-income families.

The former Fort Worth Ballet principal dancer is a native of Monterrey, Mexico. While his high school peers of surf-culture Southern California were out riding waves, Martinez was learning a different way to "hang ten" in dance class with Judy Scalin. He began formal training at the Inner City Cultural Center in L.A with Donald McKayle, Don Martin, and Gloria Bowen, and later received scholarships to the University of Arizona and Texas Christian University. In New York, he trained with modern dance masters Alwin Nikolais, Murray Louis, Hanya Holm, and Phyllis Lamhut, and at the Martha Graham School.

Martinez's choreography earned Lester Horton Dance Awards in 1999 and 2000, and, in 2001, he was named Artist of the Year by the California Dance Educators Association. He also teaches at the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts, California State University Los Angeles, and Occidental College.
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Title Annotation:ballet dancer, choreographer and artistic director Francisco Martinez
Author:Hildebrand, Karen
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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