Prima Ballerina like a character in a fairy tale, Evelyn Cisneros transformed herself from a painfully shy child into a famed prima balerina loved the world over. As the only Mexican American at her school in Huntington Beach, California, Evelyn was often teased about her nationality by other children. To help her out of her retreat into shyness, Evelyn's mother enrolled her in ballet classes. There, she developed her outstanding grace and ability, and her confidence. At 14, Evelyn left home to attend the San Francisco Ballet School. By her mid-teens, her promise as a ballerina was widely recognized. At 18, she became a member of the San Francisco Ballet.
Today, Evelyn is one of the country's top ballerinas. She has performed before audiences throughout the world, and in 1982, danced at a special White House performance. Evelyn still takes time to visit Latino children in schools, taking to them her message of drive and determination. She also maintains a strong sense of roots, crediting much of her achievement to the strength provided by her family.
Evelyn had already been photographed for the cover of the book "Gifted Woman" by Howard Schatz. I was looking for a different type of photograph. I walked into a rehearsal at the San Francisco Ballet. It appeared to be more of a workout than a rehearsal, after a while Evelyn came over to me and asked if I could wait a while until she finished the rehearsal and promised that it wouldn’t be long. She came back perspiring and her hair falling into her eyes apologizing for the delay. She said that she would be right back after cleaning up. I said "no wait, this is the shot that I want." I had to explain, "you weren’t born a ballerina, you didn’t make it here solely because of your talent, you’re here because of your work ethic. I want kids, who see you perform and say 'I want to be like Evelyn', to also understand the tremendous amount of work that goes into each and every performance." With that, she immediately posed for the photo-shoot.