Lourdes Lopez and her family fled Cuba when Castro came to power in 1959. At age 5, she began weekly ballet lessons and, three years later, her passion for ballet was born. At the age of 14, she was invited to study at the School of American Ballet under founder/director Geaorge Balanchine. At 16, she became one of the youngest dancers to join the New York City Ballet and, in 1980, graduated to soloist. Four years later, she was named principal dancer of the company. Emerging as one of the great ballerinas of the century, she has performed for such renowned directors as Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins and has been compared to such legends as Anna Pavlova and Natalia Makarova.