Joyce 2014: For Vanessa, With Love from BH!

Danzon 4 (c) Christopher Duggan - Copy

Vanessa Valecillos and Jamal Rashann Callender in DANZON. (c) Christopher Duggan

In addition to an exciting line-up that includes one World Premiere and live music, our upcoming New York Season at the Joyce Theater is especially noteworthy as we pay tribute to our beloved company dancer Vanessa Valecillos, who will be retiring later this year. Vanessa has played a huge role with the company since Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro came on board at Ballet Hispanico, but her journey with Eduardo started long ago in Chicago when the two first met. Eduardo himself offered this thoughtful reflection on this very special dancer:

I met Vanessa Valecillos in 1997 on a Fourth of July weekend by the waters of Lake Michigan. We were meant to meet. We began to work together as I found that her amazing technique and dramatic instincts were rare to me. No other dancer I had worked with previously could drum up the very soul of Latin passion while subtly fusing it with classical line and modern sensibilities. We made duets together, we danced together, she discovered my choreographic idiosyncrasies and molded them for me to catalog in my mind. In essence, she became my muse. Yet there was more to her than just artistic inspiration, with an uncanny ability to bring others into the folds of a vision–she began to collect people for our work. Audience members, supporters, friends and donors all gave in to her magic. Seventeen years later, we continue the work.

This Joyce season we will pay tribute to my first muse with a devoted performance that demonstrates her talent and abilities to inspire. Please join us on Sunday, April 27th, as we honor Vanessa’s lifetime work as an artist. An unforgettable evening for such a remarkable woman.

- Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director

“No other dancer I had worked with previously could drum up the very soul of Latin passion…”

Program D of the Joyce Season, which takes the stage on April 27th at 2 pm, has been specially programmed to celebrate Vanessa’s departure and features Edwaard Liang’s moving duet, A Verme. Vanessa and fellow dancer Jamal Rashann Callender debuted this work at the Fire Island Dance Festival in 2012 and are looking forward to performing the work again in light of this special, personal moment for the pair. Vanessa and Jamal gave their thoughts on A Verme here:

A VERME at the 2012 Fire Island Dance Festival. (c) Rosalie O’Connor

A Verme is a rare and special treat for me because I have the opportunity to perform with Vanessa. As it will be performed in program D of the Joyce season, I am delighted to have our moment together on stage. It’s a perfect piece to perform because like our friendship and partnership, our connection will never go away. The duets speaks exactly to that matter. Two beings who always find one another in different life times. Though she is moving on, we will always find each other and dance together. This is for you Vanessa. Thank you for everything you have taught me. It has been an honor and extreme privilege.

-Love, Jamal

A Verme. I am very grateful to perform this beautiful work by Edwaard Liang. The music and movement speak for itself. For me, it is about souls- those souls that I have touched and the ones that have touched me, wherever they may be. I am very excited to perform it with a very special person from the last 3 years of my career, Jamal Callender.

The work reminds me of a quote from one of Pablo Neruda’s poem “Pero hacia donde vaya llevare tu mirada, y hacia donde camines llevaras mi dolor.”

-Vanessa Valecillos

Thank you, Vanessa, for all that you have done for Ballet Hispanico! We have loved watching every moment of you lighting up the stage. Mil gracias!


Meet our newest BHdos dancers!

The sixth season of our second company, BHdos, kicked off to a great start yesterday with their first rehearsal of 2014! BHdos is a talented group of young dancers on the brink of starting their professional dance careers, who get the amazing opportunity to hone their talents under the mentorship of the artistic professionals of BH. In addition to receiving training and having the chance to take class with the main company, BHdos plays a huge role in our Education & Outreach program by performing BH repertory for New York City schoolchildren throughout the five boroughs. The second company also performs at community functions throughout the city.

We’re excited to introduce three new dancers, Christian, Trevor, and Kaylee, to the team this season! Start getting to know them here:

Christian Christian DeLuna Zuno

Hometown: Colorado Springs

Moment you knew you wanted to pursue dance:

When the time came to register for high school, the designated school in my district was a Performing Arts school. Here, at the age of 15, with the help of a mentor at my middle school’s science department who would gift my first pair of ballet shoes and Jazz pants, I could go audition for the high school’s Dance Arts Magnet program. After my first semester there I realized that dance had been my secret passion all along and started pursuing it rigorously.

What are you looking forward to about working with BHdos?

As I have gotten the privilege to further my education in Dance and other topics like Latino studies and child’s psychology at New York University, my interest with Ballet Hispanico has grown. I came to admire the focus and passion for education and outreach programs the company provides to their audiences. Getting closer to my own Mexican heritage through dance is probably the most exciting part of this opportunity.

Favorite way to unwind after a long rehearsal:

As unhealthy as it may be at times, my absolutely favorite recipe for unwinding is a large cup of herbal tea with honey, chocolate chip cookies, and some Netflix. Aka the perfect trio.

Favorite place in New York City: Riverside Park

Trevor Miles Trevor Headshot Colo

Hometown: Coos Bay, OR

Moment you knew you wanted to pursue dance:

Ever since I can remember I have been a performer. If I wasn’t performing on a stage, I was singing, acting, or dancing around the house. Singing became my primary focus, but not too long after that, I wanted to learn the technique of dance; and I just fell in love.

What are you looking forward to about working with BHdos?

I am so grateful for the opportunity to begin dancing with BHdos. I am at a point in my dance training where I am finally bridging the gap between being a student dancer and a professional, and I could not be more excited and eager to work, learn, and grow with all of the Ballet Hispanico Dancers and faculty.

Favorite way to unwind after a long rehearsal:

I love Broadway, as that is a second aspiration of mine, so on my off-time I take advantage of any opportunity to see a Broadway show or any Fine Art’s related performance in the city. I also enjoy things interior design related; and watching movies is always a go-to of mine.

Favorite place in New York City: Any time I have a view of the Ocean. :)

KayleeKaylee Tang

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Moment you knew you wanted to pursue dance:

I cannot recall a moment when I knew that I wanted to pursue dance. Dance has been a part of my life since I was little, so maybe it would be more accurate to say dance pursued me.

What are you looking forward to about working with BHdos?

I am looking forward to the comfort of having another dance family among the many others I already have. It will be a blessing to have a community to be a part of!

Favorite way to unwind after a long rehearsal:

I love to take long naps. I always fall into my deepest sleep after dancing!

Favorite place in New York City: Riverside Park

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Maybe we just discovered a correlation between dance ability and love for the coast?

Christian, Trevor, and Kaylee will be joining some returning BHdos dancers–Ana, Kassandra, Kyree, and Molly–for the new season. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on their successes throughout the year!


Interview: Eduardo and Kim Preview Performances at Queens College

Click through the image to see this interview with Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro and company dancer Kimberly Van Woesik

EV and Kim interview

The two recently spoke with NBC’s Cozi-TV station about the company’s two-day appearance at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, coming up on February 8th and 9th.

“Dance, as in all art, is that breaker of all fear. It allows you to commune, so not only Latinos can talk about their culture but other people from other cultures can enjoy, and be immersed in those cultures.”

-Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro on BH’s creative philosophy

For tickets to the shows, click HERE.


Instituto Coreográfico 2014: Paula Lobo Visits the Studios

If you’re a follower of the BH Facebook page, then you’ve probably seen one if not several gorgeous stage and rehearsal photos taken by Paula Lobo. Though we use many photographers throughout the season to shoot our dancers, Paula keeps coming back for more and knows the dancers so well that she can capture perfectly even the most subtle emotive moments in a work. She feels like part of the BH family! Today, Paula dropped by our studios to watch a run of Rosie Herrera’s work-in-progress as part of Instituto Coreográfico. We can’t wait to see the rehearsal shots she took, but until then, here are some glimpses of the photographer in action.


Instituto Coreográfico 2014: Rosie Herrera in the Studios

Today marks the second day of our latest installment of Instituto Coreográfico, Ballet Hispanico’s innovative choreography lab! This time around, Miami-based choreographer Rosie Herrera returns to develop her work with our female dancers. Check out these snapshots from the studios today, and stay tuned for more details as we follow the progress of this program. To learn more about Instituto Coreográfico, visit our website here.


Community Building at BH: Students and Masters Unite

“Community is defined as a group of two or more people who, regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, have been able to accept and transcend their differences. They are able to communicate openly and effectively; and to work together toward common goals, while having a sense of unusual safety with one another.”

-The Foundation for Community Encouragement

School of Dance Program Advisor Kiri Avelar writes this guest post on community building at Ballet Hispanico!

Ballet Hispanico is a community of dance; of children and adults, students and faculty.  Recently, the mother of BHdos dancer Ana Estrada reached out to us, offering to teach a FREE master class on Spanish Dance to our students, and the word community rang clear. Gabriela Estrada is currently obtaining her PhD on the influence of Flamenco on Ballet at the University of Sevilla, Spain and has a strong passion for both dance and community.

Gabriela gives a presentation to students while BH faculty look on.

Gabriela gives a presentation to students while BH faculty look on.

On Saturday, November 23rd, we welcomed Ms. Estrada to our BH studios.  A beautiful master class was held for our community of students: Pre-Professional Program levels 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B, and General Program level Teen Flamenco II. The goal of the master class was to introduce and explore the connections between Escuela Bolera, Danza Estilizada and flamenco as a group. It was so thrilling to see students across levels and programs come together alongside our faculty in one setting.

It is vital that our students have experiences, such as this one, that inspire and motivate them, giving them a real sense of what they are working towards in their regular training at Ballet Hispanico. They begin to connect the dots in their learning and are introduced to new concepts from a fresh perspective. Their world is opened up to a myriad of possibilities and experiences, all through a flamenco and Spanish dance lens. Our flamenco faculty are passionate about their work in the classroom and feel a great sense of responsibility to instill the discipline, technique, and passion of their dance form to the community of students at Ballet Hispanico.

“Their world is opened up to a myriad of possibilities and experiences, all through a flamenco and Spanish dance lens.”

Students learning a patada por bulerías.

Believing in the importance of dance for a community, we continue to explore the many ways our students can have experiences outside of the classroom that will propel and illuminate their learning inside the classroom. Providing access to new opportunities, such as Gabriela Estrada’s master class on Spanish dance, builds upon the seeds they are planting, helping to further nourish these young artists.

-Kiri Avelar


The Kennedy Center, Then and Now

Our BH dancers just had a spectacular two nights at the John F. Kennedy Center–and don’t just take our word for it! The Washington Post praised their performance as a “cutting-edge crowd pleaser” and we couldn’t be more thrilled. For Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, the company’s return to the D.C. venue was particularly special and prompted feelings of nostalgia for his time as a company dancer in the same venue:

Ballet Hispanico at the Kennedy Center in 1992 (Eduardo Vilaro, back row, third from the left).

The first time I walked on the Eisenhower stage at the Kennedy Center was as a dancer with Ballet Hispanico back in 1992. It was an amazing moment for me as a young dancer and an immigrant. Performing in our nation’s national theater was a major reflection of my American dream and the truth of determination. As I walked onto that same stage last weekend, now as the artistic director of Ballet Hispanico, I was once again reminded of the immensity of possibilities we find ourselves in because of this great nation and am grateful that I am in a position with BH where I can inspire, nurture and help develop young people so that they too might find themselves in awe.

-Eduardo Vilaro

“Performing in our nation’s national theater was a major reflection of my American dream.”

Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro with some current BH dancers in 2013.


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