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Lopez reveals plans for Miami ballet, its audience

In this photo taken on Oct. 17, 2012 and made available by the Miami Heat, shows Miami City Ballet dancer Jeanette Delgado and Miami Heat player LeBron James in Miami.. The Miami City Ballet together with the Miami Heat are collaborating on a new ad campaign to promote Miami's cultural scene. (AP Photo/Miami Heat, David Alvarez)In this photo taken on Oct. 17, 2012 and made available by the Miami Heat, shows Miami City Ballet dancer Jeanette Delgado and Miami Heat player LeBron James in Miami.. The Miami City Ballet together with the Miami Heat are collaborating on a new ad campaign to promote Miami's cultural scene. (AP Photo/Miami Heat, David Alvarez)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Lourdes Lopez says she had heard the rumors about Miami City Ballet, that it was a failing institution in a cultural wasteland.

In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 photo, Lourdes Lopez, the new artistic director for the Miami City Ballet, watches a dress rehearsal of the Miami City Ballet from backstage in Miami. Lopez left Miami 40 years ago to pursue a career in dance. She returns to a city with a vibrant arts scene.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)In this Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 photo, Lourdes Lopez, the new artistic director for the Miami City Ballet, watches a dress rehearsal of the Miami City Ballet from backstage in Miami. Lopez left Miami 40 years ago to pursue a career in dance. She returns to a city with a vibrant arts scene.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

But she says neither turned out to be true. The dance company's new artistic director said Thursday that she's found a vibrant arts scene and support for her ambitious plans.

Lopez's program for the ballet's 2013-14 season challenges the dancers and their audience with new choreographers. She's also planning to create a new curriculum for the company's dance school to include dance and music history, not just dance instruction.

Lopez took over at the ballet in September after the abrupt departure of its founding artistic director, Edward Villella. He was ousted after nearly a year of financial struggles and management shake-ups that threatened to overshadow the company.