Petra Bravo

Petra Bravo

She // Her // Hers

An older woman with long brown loose hair smiles softly at the camera. She is wearing a patterned blouse and hoop earrings.]

Portrait photo by Ricardo Alcaraz.

San Juan, PR
2024 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Choreographer and educator Petra Bravo has been a central figure in the Puerto Rican arts scene for more than half a century, creating more than a hundred works presented in New York, Perú, Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Through Bravo’s choreography, teaching, and projects, she has trained and opened possibilities for multiple generations of dance artists. Her sixty–plus year career began as a dancer with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, directed by Alicia Alonso, performing in Russia, China, France, Germany, Poland, Vietnam, and Mongolia from 1960 to 1967.

In 1968, she moved to Puerto Rico with her husband, Otto Bravo, where they founded two dance companies that explored contemporary approaches to ballet — Ballet 70 and Ballet Teatral. In 1979, she directed and co-founded with Awilda Sterling and Viveca Vázquez, Pisotón, the experimental dance and performance collective that transformed the dance field in Puerto Rico. Subsequently, during the 1980s she founded Danza Brava and the Encuentro de Danza Moderna festivals. Since the 1980s, she has taught dance courses at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. There, in 1999, she founded the student company Hincapié which up until today trains dancers and interdisciplinary artists, serving as a choreographic workshop for emerging artists. Bravo has received numerous awards and grants from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Bravo’s most recent work SIMULACRO (2023) was commissioned by Beta–Local and presented at Theatre Julia de Burgos. Her retrospective RetroPetraActiva was presented in 1996 as part of the celebrated Rompeforma Festival in San Juan.

Excerpts from “Hincapié/danza/pintura/urbana/film, 2022.” 40 minutes. Video by Juan Carlos Malavé.