[JPL] Re: Mabo Legend Passes

Ray Cruz rcruz at hawaiipublicradio.org
Wed Jan 14 16:55:33 EST 2009


Ray Cruz from Hawaii Public Radio's Sabor Tropical.

I thought I would pass on this obituary and share this information about a
legend in Latin music circles.

MIAMI (AP) - Pedro "Cuban Pete" Aguilar, one of the leading mambo
dancers of the 1950s, has died. He was 81.
The mambo legend passed away Tuesday at the Sinai Plaza
Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Miami, said Barbara Craddock, his
longtime dance partner. Craddock described his cause of death as
heart failure but said it could be related to his diabetes.
He performed for presidents and foreign leaders and was hailed as one
of the greatest mambo dancers by LIFE Magazine and mambo
percussionist Tito Puente, according to his Web site.
Aguilar was born in Puerto Rico in 1927 and grew up in the New York
barrio. He picked up the nickname "Cuban Pete" in 1949 at the
Palladium Ballroom in New York. The nickname referenced a Desi Arnaz
song, and Arnaz himself later endorsed Aguilar's use of it.
Aguilar had a unique ability to get inside the music when he danced,
Craddock said.
"He was definitely a rhythm technician," she said. "His feet and
hands became another instrument with the orchestra. It was a
privilege to be his partner."
Aguilar first rose to fame by winning scores of dance competitions in
the 1950s with his partner Millie Donay. He continued to dance
professionally for nearly his entire life, whether he was teaching
lessons, hosting workshops or judging competitions.
Aguilar was a choreographer and consultant for the 1992 movie, "The
Mambo Kings," starring Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante. Aguilar
and Craddock served as choreographic consultants and instructors for
the Miami City Ballet's "Mambo No. 2 a.m."
Craddock said Aguilar came out of retirement and began dancing with
her in 1998.
"He said he knew I was right for him at the first step," Craddock
said, referring to when they first met at a South Florida dance club.
"I went right out with him like water."
Besides countless performances at many high profile venues over his
career, Aguilar performed twice at the White House, once for
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and again for President Lyndon B.
Johnson. He also performed for Queen Elizabeth of England and Israeli
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Erika Engle
"TheBuzz" Columnist/Business reporter
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
erika at starbulletin.com

Ray Cruz
Hawaii Public Radio
Honolulu Hawaii
808-955-8821 Office/Receptionist
808-226-1221 Cellular

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