Alberto Lopez, Artistic Director

Alberto Lopez Herrera is a Choreographer, Wardrobe Designer & Maker, and Teaching Artist with over 30 years of experience in Mexican folk dance and story-telling. 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. 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, Daniel Jaquez, and Noemy Hernandez.

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 Seibert hailed Calpulli a “terrific company” after its performance. His choreographic works have been featured in noted venues and praised by critics at the NY Examiner, Queens Courier, and Houston Chronicle. 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. He was also recognized by Time Magazine in the series “American Voices.” He provided artistic direction, choreography, wardrobe design, and cultural expertise for the productions “Dia de los Muertos” and “Boda Mexicana.” Mr. Lopez plans to continue Calpulli’s body of work in story-telling with future productions.

Mr. Lopez continues to create traditional garments used in Mexican folkloric dance. With great attention to detail, he designs wardrobe from across Mexico. His pivotal role in costuming can be seen throughout the company’s repertoire.

Mr. Lopez was instrumental in the founding of Calpulli Community, which offers donation-based dance and music classes across the northeastern United States. In addition to technical training in folk dance and more, Mr. Lopez inspires his students and dancers by focusing on the sheer joy of dance and using that joy to create magic on stage to inspire audiences.

George Sáenz, Music 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 & Choreographer

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

Juan Castaño, Executive 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 continued his training in NYC with several choreographers most notably Noemy Hernandez, Daniel Jaquez, and Alberto Lopez. With over 20 years of dance experience in Mexican folk dance, Mr. Castaño is  a Master Teacher with the Young Arts Foundation. In recent years, he is a guest choreographer for Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, setting pieces for several productions and co-writing “Puebla: The Story of Cinco de Mayo” and “Navidad: A Mexican-American Christmas,” with the latter pulling from his upbringing on the US-Mexico border.
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.
Since 2003, Mr. Castaño works as a managing director, teaching artist, grant writing, and producer in the arts and beyond. Specifically, 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 the performing arts.

Teaching Artists

Alberto Lopez
Grisel Pren
George Sáenz

Community Program Coordinators

Rosalba Vivar, Queens and New Rochelle
Crystal Deosaran, Staten Island



Felicia Avalos
Eli Cano
Juan Castaño
Miguel Ceron
Crystal Deosaran
Mario Flores
Cindy Garcia
Yuritzi Govea
Adina Lopez

Agostina Mocibob
Yhasmine Moran
Alonso Ojeda
Grisel Pren
Sugriel Reyes
José Maria Rojas
Stefanie Roper
Lucero Velazquez

Isabella Vergara
Diana Vivar


Carbin Palafox

Christopher Vega


Luisa Bastidas

Alí Bello

Lautaro Burgos

Marilyn Castillo
Joshua Castillo
Jacqueline Coleman
Kathleen Doran
Maria Im
Juan Lucero
Jeremy Powell
Solange Prat
Mireya Ramos
George Sáenz
Ronald Wilkins
Linus Wyrsch


Daniel Garza, President
NYU School of Medicine

Alfredo Ramirez, Treasurer

David Ayala
Fashion Design & Merchandising

Juan Castaño
Pfizer, Inc.

Lisa Labrado
Paul Taylor Dance Company

Julio Urbina
The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.

Administrative Staff

Patricia Burgess

Sugie Reyes
Social Media Manager