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NMSU alumna named director of Pan American Dance Institute

Kirsten Anna Avelar, a New Mexico State University alumna, is the new director of the Pan American Dance Institute.

New Mexico State University alumna Kirsten Anna Avelar is the new director of the Pan American Dance Institute. (Courtesy photo by Becca Wilson)

Avelar has a bachelor's degree in dance from NMSU and has extensive professional experience as a performer, teacher and administrator. The institute will draw upon Avelar's ability to develop outreach, exchange and touring programs both for the NMSU dance companies and their guest artist series.

"There will be a lot of international exchange, dance is a universal language," said Avelar.

Avelar has experience working as a director of dance for the Emmanuel Ballet Academy in Juarez, Mexico. In 2001, Avelar was invited to Emmanuel Ministries to teach movement classes and help young girls gain confidence.

The program served 100 children, including children up for adoption, brought to the program by the government and those from single parent household who could not be cared for. Because of the tremendous growth and interest in the program, various types of dance classes were soon offered to the children and community every day after school.

Avelar also is a co-founder for Cor Ignis, a professional, contemporary, dance, company. The company, which has classes in Juarez, El Paso and Las Cruces, has a vision to serve the global community through the arts. The company will soon be working with the Pan American Dance Institute to offer classes and invite alumni dance instructors from NMSU to participate.

Avelar's service as a director will include reaching out to the international community to build bridges for sharing artistic and educational programs throughout the Americas. Avelar said the institute's international focuses will be on Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and Spain. The institute plans to host a Brazilian Beats workshop later this month and bring in guest artist Pablo Rodarte this spring to teach a flamenco workshop on the NMSU campus.

"I hope to raise awareness in the community that dance programs are available in the area and are offered in diverse cultural dance forms," Avelar said.

The Pan American Dance Institute serves as a venue for the study and promotion of dance in response to the educational and cultural needs of New Mexican, national and international communities. The institute is part of NMSU's Human Performance, Dance and Recreation Department in the College of Education and promotes programs within the university and community.