says simply, "I have always had one passion Dance, and it leads me."
Mariano's father immigrated to the United States in his
mid-twenties from his
small pueblo La Concepcion Huercal Overa, near Almeria.
settled in Pennsylvania, met and married his
Russian wife and worked in the steel factory.
Sisters Ines and Mariana became Spanish dancers, performing with many companies including Mariano's.
Mariano began his formal training as a student of dance in his late teens.
He worked as a switch tender on the Pennsylvania Railroad to pay for lessons.
castenets between his
sandwiches when he
went to work, so his
mother wouldn't see them.
While in the rail yard, he
played castenets and used a rail car to practise ballet exercises.
diligence paid off.
With the support and encouragement of his first teacher, Karl Heinrich, following graduation from high school in 1951, Mariano was accepted on scholarship for the summer at the famous Jacob´s Pillow Dance Academy in Lee, Masssachusetts.
The Academy was under the direction of Ted Shawn, who Mariano
refers to as "Papa Shaw".
attended Ted Shawn's Sunday night lectures on "Dance We Must" and was steeped in a culture of dance pioneers who became pivotal influences in his life as a dancer.
It was at Jabob's Pillow that Mariano
met his future mentor, Madame La Meri, one of the world's authorities on ethnic dance and author of many books on Spanish Dancing.
At the Academy, Mariano
studied East Indian Dance; Spanish Dance - classic and modern forms; as well as other ethnic dances such as Javanese, Japanese and Hawaiian.
further expanded his
dance vocabulary to train in modern dance at The Martha Graham School
studied ballet under Margaret Craske, Anthony Tudor and Maria Nevalska in New York.
professional dance career in 1957 working in opera houses and night clubs from New York to Maine.
In October of 1957, Mariano
partner in Spanish Dance, Jerane Mitchel
, made their debut in Carnegie Hall in New York.
toured with his dance partner and performed with the companies of La Meri and Peter di Falco.
In 1962, with the sponsorship of impressario, Frances Mayville, Mariano formed the Mariano Parra Spanish Dance Company which debuted in Miami, Florida in front of 3,000 people receiving critical acclaim.
Spanish dance has been described as a "ceremony of feelings...soul states...of emotional shifts and contrast". (Dance News) Mariano's
"pure flamenco" has been called "created and born again.
During the years of the Dance Company, Mariano continued to study Spanish Dance, in New York, with Juan Martinez, the great teacher-choreographer for: La Argentina, La Argentinita, Pilar Lopez and Carmen Amaya.
In Spain, Mariano
studied with two of the greatest Spanish Dance artists, Luisa Pericet, Spain's foremost exponent of the classic 18th century dance form Escuela Bolera, and, La Quica
, artist extraordinaire of Spanish dance.
also studied with such other esteemed dancers as Angel Torres, Maria Rosa Merced and Enrique "El Cojo" in Sevilla.
company choreography and performances with authentic spirit.