puerto rican dancer

Happy birthday, Choco Orta!

Choco Orta (born Virgen Milagros Orta Rodriguez on November 28, 1959) is a Santurce, Puerto Rico born Latin, Tropical and Salsa singer, percussionist, dancer and actress.

Orta went to the University of Puerto Rico, earning a bachelor’s in theater education. She then started her career in show business in 1979 by performing comedy and singing acts alongside Antonio Pantojas. She continued her career with theatrical presentations, which included The True Story of Pedo Navaja, Vejigantes, and Las Bohemias, a play with a cast of seven women. As a dancer, Orta studied with several well-known Puerto Rican dance instructors including Jose “Junito” Betancourt, Sarita Ayala and Ita Medina. Her vocal skills and training were perfected under under the private supervision of professors Fonseca and Darisabel Sales. Her knowledge of music theory and solfeggio she accredits to her years of study at the Puerto Rican Conservatory of Music.

In 1996, Choco Orta made her debut recording Sentimiento y Sabor, which was followed by additional critically-acclaimed recordings including Ahora Mismo, and Choco Swing. After living in Cuba for a short time, she came to New York in 2004 where she performed frequently at the Tropicana Nightclub. Among the many artists that Orta has worked with over the years include Tito Puente, Gilberto Santa Rosa, El Gran Combo, and many more. A long-time friend of Ruth Fernández, which Orta describes herself as “the daughter she never had,” Orta premiered Homenaje a Ruth Fernández at Teatro Tapia in San Juan in July 2015.

Priscilla Lopez (born February 26, 1948) is an American singerdancer, and actress.

Lopez was born in the Bronx, New York to Francisco Lopez, a hotel banquet foreman and Laura (née Candelaria), who were moved to New York from their native Puerto Rico. She has had the distinction of appearing in two Broadway landmarks: one of its greatest hits, the highly-acclaimed, long-running A Chorus Line, and, as a teenager, in one of its biggest flops, the infamous musical version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which closed before opening night.

Lopez graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts, where she majored in drama; her experiences as a drama student are played out in the musical A Chorus Line. Had Tiffany’ssurvived, it would have marked her debut on the Great White Way, but the production was plagued with so many problems that its creative team deemed it impossible to fix. From there she moved on to Henry, Sweet Henry, which lasted only two months at the end of 1967, when she was 19 years old. Her luck was no better the following year, when Her First Roman lasted a mere two weeks.

Lopez finally achieved critical and popular success as a replacement in two shows, Stephen Sondheim‘s Company (1970), followed by the 1972 hit Pippin in 1974 (taking over the role of Fastrada from original performer Leland Palmer). Two years later, she was invited by director and choreographer Michael Bennett to participate in a series of tape-recorded group therapy-style sessions in which chorus boys and girls - AKA “Gypsies” - bared their souls and discussed their lives, dreams, and frustrations. From this emerged A Chorus Line (1975), and Lopez was invited to join the cast portraying Diana Morales, a character patterned very much after herself. She introduced the hit song “What I Did for Love”, and sang “Nothing”, a song about her disastrously unsupportive drama class.

In her next production, A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980), Lopez stepped out of the ensemble and into the spotlight, utilizing both her comedic and vocal skills. The show had two acts, the first a mini-musical by Dick Vosburgh and Frank Lazarus with additional material by Jerry Herman about the early days of movie making, the second a send-up of the slapstick Marx Brothersmovies, with Lopez in the role of Harpo. Both she and the show received rave reviews, and it ran nearly a year-and-a-half. And for this, she earned a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress. In 1982,Tommy Tune, with whom she had worked in Hollywood/Ukraine, hired her as his assistant on Nine, the musical version of the Federico Fellini film . Midway through the run, she joined the cast taking over for Tony-winner Liliane Montevecchi in the role of Liliane La Fleur. Lopez also appeared on Broadway in the critically acclaimed play Anna in the Tropics in 2003. From 2008-2011, Lopez appeared as Camilla in the Broadway production of In the Heights.

Her off-Broadway credits include Other People’s MoneyKey ExchangeExtremitiesThe Oldest ProfessionBeauty of the Father and Class Mothers '68, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Best Actress. She also was featured in the City Center Encores! production of Babes in Arms.

In 1983 she was the voice of Herself the Elf in the animated TV special The Magic of Herself the Elf. Lopez had a starring role in the television movie, For the Love of My Child: The Anissa Ayala Story(1993), in which she played a mother, who, along with her husband, conceives a child to provide a suitable bone-marrow donor for their older daughter in 1990. Other television work includes L.A. LawLaw & OrderAll in the FamilyTrapper John, M.D. and, most recently, Cosby. She also had a key role in the short-lived 1986 medical drama Kay O'Brien, a kind of Grey’s Anatomy for the '80s, which wound up being ahead of its time. She was also in episodes of the ABC drama, Family, starring Kristy McNichol and Sada Thompson. She played Buddy’s (McNichol) dance friend on the Disco episodes.

She had a brief role in Center Stage as the Broadway Dance Studio teacher who teaches jazz. She appeared in Maid in Manhattan playing the mother of Jennifer Lopez’s character, and recently completed the film version of the long-running off-Broadway hit, Tony 'n’ Tina’s Wedding. She currently appears in the film Musical Chairs, as the disapproving mother of E.J. Bonilla’s character. The story deals with a couple (Bonilla and Leah Pipes), who fall in love and join a wheelchair ballroom dancing competition after the girl becomes a paraplegic when struck by a car.

Lopez is married to Vincent Fanuele; they have two children, Alex and Gabriella.