City's Dance Community Mourns Charismatic Performer
MIDTOWN — Friends and relatives of Jorge Fuentes, a charismatic dancer who died after being hit by the F train last week, paid him tribute this week by donating more than $12,000 to send his body home.
“Our family is touched by the outpouring love of all whose lives he lit up,” his sister Yajahira Fuentes wrote on the fundraising page, which had collected $12,278 by Tuesday morning, more than the $10,000 goal.
"We appreciate your condolences and support, we will forever be thankful," she added, saying the body would be flown to Fuente's hometown of Dallas, Texas, for the funeral services, with details still to be determined.
Fuentes, 28, was an experienced dancer who performed with various professional companies including Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater — and also taught choreography at local schools, friends said.
He was struck by a southbound F train at the Herald Square-34th Street station just before 2 p.m. on June 11. The Medical Examiner's Office said Monday that Fuentes' death had been ruled a suicide.
His friends said they don't know why he would take his own life.
“I just want to say goodbye,” said Mondo Morales, one of Fuentes’ childhood friends, “Why? I just don’t understand.”
“I am devastated, my dancers are devastated,” said Annabella Gonzalez, founder of Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater. “They are all crying."
Gonzalez said she was impressed with Fuentes from the first time she saw him perform. He was a natural dancer with incredible technique and a charismatic personality that drew people to him, she said.
"He was an excellent man from a modest background," Gonzalez said.
Born in northern Mexico, Fuentes and his family moved to Dallas at a young age. There he excelled while attending a performing arts middle school. He also joined a youth company that performed Mexican folk dance.
Fuentes moved to New York City to pursue a dance career about seven years ago. He quickly made friends and developed his craft, Morales said.
His friends plan to celebrate his life on June 26 at 8 p.m. in the Ailey Studios on the corner of 55th Street between Ninth Avenue.
"He was a magnet, he could go into a bar and make friends with everyone inside," Morales said, adding that they'll show a video of Fuente's performances at his memorial.
"His life was a performance."