Many people who routinely watch the New Jersey Cuban Parade when it makes its way through Hudson County each June know Nicole Falcon‘s face. She is the pretty woman who waves from the top of one of the floats.
Falcon has been invited to take part in Latino events in Bayonne and Jersey City over the last few years, and is a fixture in North Hudson.
She likes to think she has performing in her blood. Her father Esteban Falcon was a popular baritone singer in Cuba before immigrating to the United States. Her mother, Elsa Falcon, accompanied him for performances even after they moved north to Hudson County in the 1970s.
“My father often appeared on TV and stage,” Falcon said. “He continued to perform when they came to America.”
Falcon, currently a resident of Weehawken, was born in Miami, but lived in Union City and West New York – graduating from St. Joseph of the Palisades high school in West New York in 1989.
Her father continued to perform locally, which allowed her to watch and learn about theater and develop a love for performance. She started dancing at 4. By 11, she was attending a modeling school. By age 12, she was already convinced she wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps, and said they remain her role models.
“My father performed in Cuban lodges and other places,” she said.
This includes performances at places such as the Park Theater.
“I loved watching him rehearse at the Park Theater. I loved watching them perform,” she said. “This gave me a taste for theater. I’ve been performing since I was 4 years old. My mother put me into classes for ballet and tap. I even danced flamenco.”
She said she loved to dance. When still a young girl, she already showed promise, receiving local recognition as a dancer at the ‘Festival De Primavera’ at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
“I must have had some talent in me, and I’m sure it came from my parents,” she said.
“I must have had some talent in me, and I’m sure it came from my parents.” – Nicole Falcon
Clerk, translator, even a PR person
Like many artists, Falcon struggled to make a living and often had to work jobs unrelated to her performance career.
This includes work as an admissions clerk for a hospital in Hoboken, a reporter for a local Spanish newspaper, and eventually as a supervisor for Guttenberg’s Hispanic and Minority Affairs Office, under then Mayor Peter LaVilla.
Because she was bilingual, La Villa asked her to also act as a translator for the Guttenberg Police Department.
“They needed someone to explain police instructions to non-English speaking people,” she said, “and to ask them questions.”
LaVilla, who wrote and directed independent films, also recognized her talents as an actor and singer, incorporating her into some of his productions.
For a brief time in 2011-12, Falcon worked for West New York Mayor Felix Roque doing public relations, although by that time, she had already made her mark as a local performer.
Career took off in 1987
While she spent a lot of time on stage when very young, her professional career took off in 1987 when at age 16 she graduated from the Barbizon Modeling School. In April 1987 she won the title of Miss New Jersey American in Atlantic City, where she represented Union City. She also got to perform at the Union City Carnival in 1989, sharing the stage with actress Jeannette Rodriguez, Frank Moro, and others.
Since then, she has worked as a singer, dancer, model, and promoter for Tito Puente Jr., El Gallito Del Can, and other prominent entertainment agencies. She is not only one of the stars of the annual New Jersey Cuban Day Parade and festival, but also one of its promoters. She has done runway modeling and modeled for photographers, and magazines.
She continues to perform various local nightclubs in New Jersey and New York; also in Pennsylvania as a soloist singer. She has even performed with her father at a few concerts over the years.
She was also an assistant dance instructor for salsa classes with well known dancer and dance instructor Jorge Riveron from New York City.
In 2009, she performed with Tito Puente Jr. at the New Jersey Cuban Day Parade, as well as with other artists like Miguel Miguel’s Band. She has been accompanied by Maximo Gomez, and has performed in a lyrical concert accompanied by pianist Gilberto Perez-Lavastida. She has shared the stage with Isa De Cuba, Gloria Gonzalez-Gavlas, Claudina Montenegro, Rene Rodriguez, and the late Mirta Puig.
Most recently, she worked with Jon Secada, Roberto Torres, “El Caminante,” and Ramon Fabian Veloz Jr. at a show honoring Cuban heritage month, Nostalgia Cubana Show. She also received a recognition award for her long years of work as an artist, Premios “Too Much,” by Johnny Too Much in New York City. In September 2012 Nicole was the dancer on a float for singer Miriam Cruz formerly of “Las Chicas Del Can,” at the Dominican Day Parade of New Jersey.
As prominent a figure as she has been, she describes her career these days as “low key” and something she wants to re-launch.
“I’m locally famous, and I sing in clubs all over Hudson County, but most people know me for the parade,” she said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.