Dance Biography

Hernando Cortez was born in Manila, Philippines, and spent his early years in British Columbia, where he began his dance training at Vancouver’s Pacific Ballet Theatre. He graduated with Honors from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance in 1985. He was invited to join Feld Ballets/NY, and in 1987 joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He was featured in two PBS/WNET Dance in America specials, and his own choreography is showcased in the Taylor Company’s critically acclaimed smash hit “Funny Papers.” He performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project in their 1998 national tour.


A popular freelance choreographer, Cortez has created dances for: American Ballet Theatre (the Studio Company), the Williamstown Theater Festival and the Sands Hotel in Atlantic City.

From 2002-2008 he was Artistic Director of Verb Ballets in Cleveland, Ohio. He took a regional Ohio dance troupe to national recognition by conceiving then executing his focused artistic mission. The troupe soon grew to become a state favorite, playing to full houses at 2,500-seat theaters. With Verb Ballets he choreographed over 3 dozen new ballets. Dance Magazine hailed Verb, under his direction, a “great troupe in a small package.” Read the article here.


He has been on the faculties of Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, The Boston Conservatory, and the school of the Paul Taylor Dance Company. He is currently on the faculty of the Joffrey Ballet School and is guest choreographer for Peridance’s Youth Ensemble.

Mr Cortez is a proud recipient of a 2004 Northern Ohio Live Award of Achievement, and was named one of Cleveland’s Most Interesting People 2005 by Cleveland Magazine. .

Through nomination and the generous support of The Cleveland Foundation, Cortez attended the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders, a joint program of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation and National Arts Strategies. He has served on numerous panels, most recently as an advisor for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hernando Cortez is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.