2015 New standard Award
Chita Rivera, born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero on January 23, 1933, was a pioneering figure in American theater and dance, celebrated for her groundbreaking contributions to Broadway and beyond. Rivera's journey to stardom began in Washington, D.C., where she was born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Scottish and Italian descent. Raised in a bilingual household, Rivera was exposed to various cultures and languages from a young age, shaping her worldview and later influencing her eclectic artistic style.
Rivera's passion for dance blossomed early, and she received formal training in ballet, jazz, and modern dance. In the 1950s, she made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of Call Me Madam before catching the attention of choreographer Jerome Robbins, who cast her in the role of Anita in the original production of West Side Story (1957). Rivera's electrifying performance as the fiery Anita earned her widespread acclaim and marked the beginning of her illustrious Broadway career.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rivera continued to dazzle audiences with her remarkable talent, starring in iconic musicals such as Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, and Sweet Charity. Her versatility as a performer was evident as she seamlessly transitioned between comedic and dramatic roles, captivating audiences with her charisma and stage presence.
In 1984, Rivera made history by becoming the first Hispanic woman to receive the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, a testament to her enduring impact on American theater. She has also been recognized with numerous Tony Awards nominations, winning Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performances in The Rink (1984) and Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993).
Throughout her career, Rivera was a trailblazer and an inspiration to performers around the world, breaking barriers and defying expectations with her unparalleled talent and determination. Rivera passed away on January 30, 2024 leaving behind an indelible mark on the world of theater.
To learn more about Chita's life and career, please visit www.chitarivera.com.