Chita Rivera (1933–) is a theatrical icon and one of Broadway’s greatest talents. She is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned ten nominations, won twice, and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater. She is equally legendary for her unwavering commitment to charities on both sides of the Atlantic. The third of five children born in Washington, DC, and very much a tomboy, Rivera’s mother enrolled her in ballet class from age nine after her leaps and bounds broke the furniture. She was mentored by dance pioneer Doris Jones of the Jones-Haywood Dance School. Rivera moved to New York City as a young teen where she auditioned for the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Balanchine recognized her talent and gave her a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, where she began taking classes at the same time as dancers Edward Villella, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent and Maria Tallchief.
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