PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Alberto Lopez Herrera is the artistic director and founder of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company and a teaching artist at Flushing Town Hall. Originally from the city of Puebla in Mexico, dance has been a part of his life since the age of 6. He moved to the USA with his family at the age of 17 and has lived in Queens for more than 20 years.
MOTIVATION TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE COMMUNITY: Herrera loves dance, Mexican culture and New York City. As a teaching artist, he enjoys sharing his knowledge and love of the culture with young students so they understand and appreciate the history and beauty that is Mexico, and works hard with Calpulli to make dance and music accessible to all. Calpulli’s community classes are by donation, so all young people can participate, and the program has grown to serve Queens in two locations (Long Island City and East Elmhurst), Staten Island and New Rochelle.
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND CAREER: He began to study dance as part of school at age 6 in Puebla, and he graduated from LaGuardia High School. He also studied with the National Dance Institute as teaching artist and danced with several companies in New York City, including Ballet Folklorico de Great Neck and Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Nueva York. Herrera has worked with choreographers Francisco Nevarez, Clarissa Marcovich, Francisco Graciano and Roberto Lara, and now aims to continue to grow Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. He is currently working on a new program for next year that will explore dance traditions in weddings.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “One of my biggest challenges has been to be able to manage so many students in one class. I have has as many as 40 students learning dance of many different ages. At first, this was very challenging, but with practice and patience, I have learned to reach many students by challenging them and sharing the enjoyment of dance. Teaching is like dancing: it takes practice to be good.”
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS: Herrera is very proud of his work with Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, and especially of a review in the New York Times that called the group “terrific.”
“I was very excited when the company performed at Flushing Town Hall, at Carnegie Hall, in Houston, Texas, and this past summer I debuted new dances at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.”