One of the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s five esteemed resident companies is the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. The dance company, noted for their colorful flowing costumes and precision foot work, was founded by Anita Martinez, a historic figure in Dallas, who turned 95 on December 8.
Ms. Martinez founded ANMBF in 1975 to preserve and elevate an important art form, Ballet Folklorico. She felt that through teaching and performances of Ballet Folklorico, she could help young people better understand their culture, and help instill self-discipline and a strong work ethic. And for 45 years, her dance academy and dance company have been ambassadors for this art form, and for the city of Dallas. In addition to performances, ANMBF has commissioned many works and performances.
But Ms. Martinez’s impact goes beyond her famous company. Ms. Martinez, who is a fifth generation Texan, was the first Hispanic ever elected to the Dallas City Council. She represented the West Dallas community from 1969 to 1973. During her term, she worked hard to reduce crime, get youth off the streets, and build important neighborhood infrastructure like paved streets, sidewalks, street lamps, and library branches. She was also responsible for the construction of an important community gathering place in West Dallas that is now named after her, the Anita Martinez Recreation Center.
Today, Ms. Martinez and her husband, El Fenix restaurateur Alfred Martinez, live in North Dallas. After they were married, Ms. Martinez raised their four children and was an active volunteer in many organizations, something she continued throughout her life.
This month, the City of Dallas honored her with a Special Recognition from Mayor Eric Johnson and the Dallas City Council for her many contributions to Dallas. The Center wishes Ms. Martinez a Happy Birthday!