Alberto Lopez, Artistic Director
Alberto Lopez Herrera is a Choreographer, Costume Designer & Maker, and Teaching Artist with over 30 years of experience in Mexican folk dance. He aims to expand Calpulli Mexican Dance Company’s folk repertoire and develop productions with cross-cultural narratives. Mr. Lopez also seeks to share his knowledge of Mexican traditions in dance with younger generations via Calpulli Community.
Originally from San Antonio Chiltepec in Puebla, Mr. Lopez began his studies of Mexican folkloric dance at the age of 12 at the Centro Escolar Benito Juarez de Acatlán de Osorio. At the same time, he began to develop skills in garment making, a craft that would later compliment his dedication to dance. Most recently, he completed the National Dance Institute’s intensive Teaching Artist training in New York. In the USA, Mr. Lopez was a dancer and choreographer with Grupo Folklórico de Greatneck, Don Juan Dancers, and the Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York, working with distinguished choreographers Francisco Nevarez and Clarissa Marcovich.
Under his Artistic Direction, Calpulli Mexican Dance Company has performed at noted venues including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (Inside/Out Series), Wortham Center (Houston, TX), Humboldt State University, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Penn State Erie, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors, where Dance Critic Brian Siebert hailed Calpulli a “terrific company” after its performance. A few months later, Mr. Lopez was named “Star of Queens” by the Queens Courier for his artistic accomplishments and commitment to community arts programming.
Mr. Lopez continues to create traditional costumes used in Mexican folkloric dance. With great attention to detail, he designs costumes from across Mexico. His pivotal role in costuming can be seen throughout the company’s repertoire.
George Sáenz, Musical Director
Trombonist/Multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and educator, George Saenz is originally from Laredo, Texas on the U.S./Mexican border. He grew up listening to a multitude of different genres of music including the music of his Mexican-American Heritage and Jazz. In May 2005, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts to study brass performance and jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. Since graduating in 2008, his path has led him to perform with multiple award-winning artists such as Gloria Estefan and The Edge (U2). George has also shared the stage with Ruben Blades, McCoy Tyner at the Montreal Jazz Festival, performed in the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra with Bob Mintzer (2006), and a performance at the world renowned, Carnegie Hall in New York City with The Cornerstone Chorale and Brass Ensemble. He also represented Berklee College of Music throughout the city of Boston in performances with Eddie Palmieri and The Harvard Jazz Big Band led by Tom Everett, The Beantown Swing Orchestra, The Ryles Jazz Club Big Band, and with the Eguie Castrillo Latin Jazz band. In November 2007, he performed with Maria Schneider and The Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra, and at the Beantown Jazz Festival with Phil Wilson’s Rainbow Band.
In addition to playing the trombone, George is also a talented button accordionist, bassist, pianist, guitarist and composer/arranger, having an original arrangement of the jazz standard “I Love You” be debuted at the Heineken Jazz Festival in Puerto Rico in 2008.
George now resides and works in New York City, working as a freelance musician, composer/arranger and educator. He is a Teaching Artist with Calpulli Music?s accordion class. And he is Musical Director of Calpulli Mexican Dance Company.
Grisel Pren, Rehearsal Director
Grisel Pren was born and raised in Cancun, Mexico and always had a strong, passionate love for dance. She began dance training at a young age in local dance studios and the Casa de la Cultura Mexico. She would later become a professional dancer and entertainer in many of the Resorts in the Riviera Maya.
Grisel moved to New York City in 2007 to further her training and follow her dreams. She studied at Broadway Dance Center under the International student program, Steps on Broadway, and The Alvin Ailey School. Along with dance, she studied acting and voice. She performed with Arthur Aviles Typical Theater Company, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Legros Cultural Arts, and appeared as a backup dancer in Music Videos “Yo valgo mas” & “Dance with me” produced by Weras Music and Tiny baby Giants. Grisel made her Off Broadway debut in 2012 with “Zapata! The Musical” at the New York Musical Festival, where she played the role of Curandera and served as Dance Captain and Assistant to the Choreographer.
Her training, teaching and performance skills are varied among Classical Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Mexican Folk Dance and many Latin styles. She is currently a Teaching Artist with the Society of the Educational Arts and, most recently, she completed the Mexican Folk Dance Teacher certification from the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez.
Grisel joined Calpulli Mexican Dance Co. in 2008 and tours with the Company in numerous venues nationally and internationally. She also serves as Calpulli Community Dance Program Teaching Artist and leads various Dance Workshops and Arts in Education school residencies
Roberto Lara, Choreographer-in-Residence
Roberto Lara joined Calpulli Mexican Dance Company as a Guest Choreographer in 2015 and was invited to contribute as Choreographer-in-Residence shortly thereafter. Mr. Lara is an acclaimed classical dancer and choreographer from Mexico City. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Danza (Mexico) and, among others, danced with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Kamea Dance Company and Ballet Hispanico. He is also 3-time recipient of awards via The National Foundation for Culture and Arts in Mexico (FONCA). In 2014, Calpulli debuted “Jarabillo” choreographed by Mr. Lara, and in 2015 he will work closely with Artistic Director Alberto Lopez on exciting new works.
Juan Castaño, Managing Director
Juan Castaño co-founded Calpulli Mexican Dance Company with the vision of celebrating and serving the Mexican and Mexican-American community across the USA.
Mr. Castaño, a native of El Paso, Texas, holds an MBA in General Management from the Metropolitan College of New York. He also holds a BA in Chemistry and studied Latin American Studies while at Grinnell College in Iowa. There he also began his studies of folk dance with student instructor Alicia Gonzalez.
He studied Arts Administration as continuing education at New York University and is a certified Non-Profit Financial Professional via the Fiscal Management Associates. Mr. Castaño is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) via the Project Management Institute.
For more than 10 years, Mr. Castaño has worked as a project coordinator and grant writer. He is currently an Associate Director at Pfizer supporting research and development projects.
Mr. Castaño is inspired by the quality of the artistic and cultural programming by Calpulli, with whom he is still a dancer. Accessibility of high quality community programs, serving hundreds of students and families, is also a driving force for his dedication to Calpulli. As Managing Director, he leads all organizational development, marketing, and fundraising for Calpulli.
Beau Mueller, Website Design & Maintenance
Community Program Coordinators
Jose Maria Rojas
Lisa Labrado, President
Paul Taylor Dance Company
NYU School of Medicine
Fashion Design & Merchandising