Teacher who brought Argentinian dancer to B.C. hopes she recovers from injury


NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. – Supporters are hoping for a miraculous recovery after an Argentinian ballerina whose dramatic style earned her a scholarship to a dance school in Vancouver suffered a devastating head injury.

RCMP say Lucila Munaretto, 21, missed a stop sign and struck a vehicle on Thursday while roller-skating on a road in North Vancouver.

Pacific Dance Arts artistic director Yaming Li said the dancer had injured her foot prior to the accident and was on her way to visit a friend.

Li said he noticed the shy young dancer at a school in Brazil three years ago and offered her a scholarship that brought her to Vancouver in the fall of 2012.

“She does not come from an affluent family in Brazil but I did see her talent so I wanted her to continue,” he said Monday. “I thought if she came to Canada she might have some potential.”

Li said Munaretto’s family had moved to Brazil from Argentina 10 years ago.

Earlier this summer, Munaretto was invited to a six-week ballet program in Toronto and earlier played the role of Gretel in a production of “Hansel and Gretel” in Regina.

“She’s a very dramatic and beautiful actor on stage,” he said.

“She had such a good opportunity and almost made it to her dreams. We want to make all our efforts to see her recover as much as possible.”

Li said he asked about 20 dancers to record encouraging messages for Munaretto and that he put them on a CD that was played by her bedside.

“We had messages from Europe, many of them from Brazil, and also from local Canadians.”

Li said Munaretto was seen moving her hand and foot in response to the voices and music played from a production of “Cinderella,” her most recent performance, and from Chopin, from a previous show.

“Last night, doctors were very, very impressed with the improvement. They were shocked.”

The school has started a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for her rehabilitation, he said.

“It’s a really long journey and I feel really, really sad. I’m just hoping for miracles though I feel she is not going to be fully recovered, dancer-wise.”

Laura Lopez, a volunteer who helps foreign students at the dance school with housing arrangements and visa applications, said Munaretto’s mother arrived from Brazil on Sunday night and has been telling the dancer stories from her childhood.

“This morning she was improving a lot. She’s exceeding expectations, considering her injuries.”

— By Camille Bains in Vancouver