RICHMOND, Va. -- We expected our story about the 20-year-old Latin Ballet of Virginia and its dynamic founder, Ana Ines King, to flow with joy. After all, these talented dancers are embarking on an international trip to Mexico, a mission by the non-profit to exchange cultures.
While these performers remain light on their feet, they carry heavy hearts.
"I think we are pride. Passion and love. That describes the whole Latin Ballet," King said.
Fellow dancer Ivana Lo Piccolo lost her battle with cancer just hours before rehearsal. The crushing news left the ballet stunned.
"These are the times you don’t know if you want to move or not," dancer Roberto Whitaker said.
Ana said her humble friend shined.
"I saw her dance and I said that is what I want. I want you. Just like you," King said. "I just loved the way she moved. She was just so passionate with everything so today was really hard."
The professionally trained dancer’s compassion and love truly shined in the ballet’s “Be Proud of Yourself,” a mentoring program for students living with disabilities.
This family of dancers will lean on each other in the coming days, weeks and months. The performers will also seek guidance and strength from their leader, Ana King.
"Because love is a positive energy. And energy never dies. We keep that energy with us. We can only spread it," dancer Jay Williams said.
The performers with Latin Ballet of Virginia said their friend may be gone, but promised to keep her memory close as they soar across the stage.
"This loss for us was very hard, so we are going to dance for her always. And she will always be in her hearts," Marisol Betancourtsotolongo said.
Ana Ines King, the founder of the Latin Ballet, said she will be renaming the dance company’s scholarship in Ivana Lo Piccolo’s name. The Latin Ballet will be returning to Virginia early next week.
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