Mexican choreographer Edgar Zendejas speaks about his new work for Ballet Hispanico, Umbral. Inspired by Dia de los Muertos, the work is a seductive and imaginative take on the holiday and will be premiering at the Apollo Theater on November 23rd.
For more info on the performance, visit: http://www.ballethispanico.org/performances/Apollo
While Halloween might be over, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) still gives you a reason to celebrate. The Mexican holiday is a three-day event (which began yesterday) of gathering with friends and family to honor the dead with offerings. Though it originated in Mexico, the holiday has spread throughout Latin America and to Hispanic communities worldwide, with a variety of celebrations incorporating music, dance, candlelight processions, kite-flying, and more.
Ballet Hispanico is excited to present a world premiere by Mexican choreographer Edgar Zendejas, Umbral, inspired by Día de los Muertos and showing at the Apollo Theater on November 23rd. The dance is a seductive reimagining of the holiday and the atmosphere it evokes. A key figure of the holiday is the character of Catrina, the traditionally feminine representation of death who wears a distinctive face, which has become increasingly popular around Halloween–even trending as the “Mexican Skull Candy” look amongst celebrities and fans. For Umbral, Zendejas chose to cast dancer Mario Ismael Espinoza as Catrina, adding an intriguing spin to what is sure to be an exceptional piece.
“It is a mythical being that inspires fear, but also joy and celebration of people’s lives.”
Mario worked with Zendejas to perfect the makeup for Catrina, which the dancer will be sporting on stage. Here’s how they put it together, with commentary from Mario about the process:
We can’t wait to see this on stage–be sure to join us at the Apollo to see it live!
Photos by company dancer Johan Rivera.
Ballet Hispanico wants to extend a big congratulations to our very own Marvin Hernandez, a dancer with the School of Dance who recently was accepted into New York City’s Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS)! PPAS is a public high school that trains students artistically and academically to develop a strong foundation for a professional career in the arts. Students must audition for their dance, drama, musical theater, or vocal programs.
Marvin began his studies with the School of Dance two years ago in our General Program Ballroom class with Xavier Auza. After spending much of last year and this past summer honing his ballet technique with Pre-Professional coordinator Caridad, the dedicated 16-year-old is now enrolled in Pre-Professional Level 3B. “Marvin is a great school citizen,” said Deputy School Director Nicholas Villeneuve, “always early for class and very passionate about performing.”
Marvin is greatly influenced by the rhythmic culture of the Caribbean and his Dominican roots, and truly embodies the Ballet Hispanico spirit. “I am so happy–I want to represent,” he said. “I have my hopes to go to Juilliard.”
“Marvin is a great school citizen–always early for class and very passionate about performing.”
The dancers of BHdos wowed audiences last Saturday at Bailando Por Una Causa 2013, an annual dance benefit hosted by Baila Society. The performance was held at El Museo del Barrio, with proceeds supporting the Latino Commission on AIDS. BHdos performed the Bolero excerpt from Club Havana, where they got to dress up in glitzy costumes as they glided across the stage doing effortless lifts and partnering moves. Here they are backstage before the show!
Today marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month! Since September 15th, we’ve been asking our company dancers for their thoughts and insights on Hispanic heritage, be it a cultural, artistic, or personal interpretation. We’ve been sharing some of their wonderful responses on our Facebook and it’s been great to see how many others resonate with their thoughts. Here are their responses, in their entirety:
What are your thoughts on Hispanic heritage?
The Ballet Hispanico blog is back and better than ever–ready to give you updates and behind-the-scenes stories of what really goes on at BH. We’re all a flutter over here over the recent success of School of Dance student Alex Gallagher, who won a gold medal at an international dance competition last weekend. Check out her guest blog post below:This September I began training at the Ballet Hispanico School of Dance in Level 5A of the Pre-professional Program. I also train in ballet three mornings a week with Caridad Martinez, for a total of six days of dancing a week. I have known Caridad for a few years and we had discussed possibly traveling to attend various competitions and workshops. Right when I began classes last month, she brought up participating in the Danza Activa competition in Panama. My family and I decided that it would be a great experience that would help me grow and gain confidence in my dancing, so I rehearsed a variation for the entire month of September. On October 3, I left for Panama with Caridad on my first trip abroad. I was both nervous and excited because I had also never performed a solo, or even participated in a competition before, and I did not know what to expect. Upon arriving in Panama, I was immediately relaxed: the weather was warm and sunny and I was warmly welcomed into the country by everyone I met. Before the competition started, I met many of the competitors who came from all around Latin America, and I took workshops in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and hip-hop, which were taught by the judges of the competition. Two days later, I found myself in the theater, preparing for my performance, and to my own surprise, I remained calm. The nerves set in a few numbers before me, but as soon as my music began, I just danced. I didn’t worry about any of the steps; I embodied my inner Swanhilda (I was dancing her variation from Act 3 of Coppelia) and simply enjoyed performing as I always have ever since I started dancing. I came off the stage beaming – not only had I just finished my first solo and competition, but I was happy with my performance. I was, and still am very proud of myself.
The following night at the gala, I was called onstage with my division and after the presenters called my name they said “Oro!” Though I didn’t understand much else of what they had said since my Spanish isn’t very good, I did understand that I had just won a Gold medal and I was thrilled. My trip to Panama was such an enriching and enlightening experience for me even though I only spent three full days there. Not only did I learn about the culture and people there as well as do some sightseeing, I also learned about myself and my dancing through watching and speaking to other dancers from around the world. I loved every minute I was there and I am so grateful to Ballet Hispanico and Caridad for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I only hope that my dancing will allow me to continue to travel and maybe even visit Panama again soon.
“The nerves set in a few numbers before me, but as soon as my music began, I just danced.”
Congratulations to Alex and Caridad! We couldn’t be prouder!
The final countdown to the Recital has begun! With just one week left until the big day, School of Dance classes are excited to perfect their pieces. BH Company dancer Jamal Rashann Callender visited our Boys Workshop classes to mentor the students and, most importantly, have fun.
Here’s what Jamal had to say about his experience:
“The classes were amazing! We spoke about many things including respect and how to make best use of your time in class. One of the great things for me was connecting dance poses to “comic figure action shots,” which for dancers are actually staccato movements. It was great to see them take that advice and run with it.
“It was really great to be in a position where I can look at these boys and see myself in them. It made me want to give them as much feedback as I could; not only for each of them to excel, but also so that one day they will be in the same position I am today.
It was a great treat for me!”
Check out these awesome and hilarious photos below: