Watch Ariana DeBose lead Tony tribute to Chita Rivera with 'America' performance

"I literally would not be here without Chita blazing the trail."

Months after the tragic passing of Chita Rivera, the Broadway community is still remembering the legendary performer.

During the the 77th annual Tony Awards, Rivera was honored by several theater alums, including host Ariana DeBose, who introduced the special segment by saying, "In January, we lost one of the theater’s brightest lights: the irreplaceable Chita Rivera."

The celebration of the trailblazer called upon Tony-winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Bebe Neuwirth, who offered stirring tributes to Rivera’s past roles, while dancers showcased memorable snippets of choreography. This culminated in the return of DeBose, who emerged in the classic purple Anita dress worn by Rivera in West Side Story.

"I literally would not be here without Chita blazing the trail for all who follow," DeBose said. "Because of her, I am. Chita, from all of us, we will always love you!”

<p>Bennett Raglin/Getty; Bennett Raglin/Getty</p> Ariana DeBose and Chita Rivera

Bennett Raglin/Getty; Bennett Raglin/Getty

Ariana DeBose and Chita Rivera

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DeBose and an ensemble of dancers then broke out into a performance of West Side Story’s "America." There were also nods to Rivera’s work in such musicals as Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Sweet Charity, West Side Story, and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

“Chita redefined what it meant to be a Latina in show business," Mitchell said during his segment. "She inspired generations of young women. If she could do it, they could do it. She’ll always be with us whenever artists recreate one of her dances or sings one of her songs."

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McDonald added, “Chita had one of Broadway's quintessential voices. It sent chills from the top of your head all the way down to the bottom of your toes. It contained multitudes.”

Rivera, who died at age 91 on Jan. 30, was one of the most-nominated stars in Tony Awards history, with 10 nods and two wins to her name. She was also honored with the special Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2018. Among her many credits was Rivera’s history-making role as Anita in Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story, which turned her into an overnight sensation in 1957. Both DeBose and Rita Moreno would later win Oscars for Best Supporting Actress for portraying the same character in the 2021 and 1961 movie adaptations of the musical.

Related: Tony Mordente, West Side Story actor and ex-husband of the late Chita Rivera, dies at 88

The day after Rivera’s death, DeBose got emotional while discussing her connection to the musical icon.

“The first time I hosted the Tonys, we had the privilege of presenting Best Musical together that year. She welcomed me to the sisterhood," the 33-year-old told Live's Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos of Rivera. “She was a force of nature, and she showed so many of us what was possible, especially for dancers. She broke barriers. Because she was, I am. We all miss her a great deal, but we work very hard to keep her legacy alive and do it very well."

You can watch DeBose pay tribute to Chita Rivera in the clip above.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.