Afro Little Havana: Commemorating the Black History of the "Latino Ellis Island"

Juanita Baró, Afro-Cuban Dancer

Juanitá Baro's long career includes her roles as a dancer, choreographer, traditional singer, actress, teacher, painter and scholar.

She is the first person to offer Afro-Cuban dance classes in Little Havana, beginning at a studio in 1981.

Before moving to Miami, she was the lead dancer with Cuba's famous Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, also serving as a singer and choreographer with the group. She toured worldwide with the Conjunto for nearly 13 years and also danced in several films. Juanita arrived in Miami on the Mariel boat lift in 1980. She founded her own company of Cuban folkloric dance in Little Havana. She also worked closely with the late Pedro Pablo Peña, also a well known dance choreographer who worked for many years in Little Havana.

In Miami, she worked on projects for television and film. During the 1990s, she joined the Miami Hispanic theater, participating as an actress with Teatro Avante and the Hispanic Theater Festival of Miami. She also taught dance as an adjunct professor at Florida International University (FIU) during those years. In 2000, she turned to painting, and has participated in group exhibitions in Tampa and Fort Myers.

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