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
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!
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:
Just because our season at The Joyce wrapped a couple of weeks ago, it doesn’t mean Ballet Hispanico has slowed down at all! Our School of Dance students are very busy preparing for their End of Year Recital at the beginning of June, and BH Company members have graciously lent a hand. For the past few weeks, our dancers have been visiting classrooms to help our students perform their very best!
Recently, Lauren Alzamora visited Ms. Kiri’s Spanish Class. This is what she had to say about her experience:
“I asked to see the girls run their dance for the recital. This was outside of their normal routine, as it was in the first half hour of class, before practicing the piece in sections. I was pretty pleased with the run, but since there is always room for improvement, I asked each girl to tell me a spot where they messed up or could have done better. Every girl was aware of at least one or two self-corrections, and as suspected there were some commonalities. We had the girls time on their own to practice their individual self corrections.
I narrowed it down to three areas of focus and we worked on the clarity of steps and positions in those three sections. Next time I visit we will work those three corrections at the beginning and run the footwork section before running the dance. We will see what they held on to!
I love how every one of the girls demonstrated self awareness – it gives the teacher the opportunity to reinforce the virtue of self-responsibility. We are teaching them how to use their self-awareness toward a better end result (by practicing their self corrections).
I realize it is important to give them clear goals to strive for in each section. And since they don’t come to class every day, reinforce what we spoke about each time – the power of repetition! Looking forward to next week!”
We’ll have more stories in the weeks leading up to the recital. Thank you to our students, teachers, and Company dancers!
For most, the idea of tango conjures up images of steamy Buenos Aires nightclubs full of men, with roses gripped between their teeth, leading ladies across the floor. While Alejandro Cervera’s Tango Vitrola (1987) does feature the key elements of a stereotypical tango milonga (strong men, beautiful women and sensual music), it also challenges an audience’s preconceptions and offers a rich and beautiful exploration of the dance form.
The choreographer, Alejandro Cervera, hails from Buenos Aires, where his first exposure to dance was in the home where his parents would tango with friends and family during parties. “Growing up in Argentina,” he said, “it’s hard not to have a lot of contact with tango and tango music, especially in the big cities.” Tango has been inextricably linked to Argentinean culture, in both beautiful and problematic ways.
Through the creation of Tango Vitrola, Mr. Cervera aimed to challenge the gender stereotypes associated with tango. He explained that in the 1980s, Argentinean society became “much more balanced, more egalitarian” and he sought to reflect these changes in his work. His Tango Vitrola is more democratic and less black and white than the traditional dance form.
The relationship between the partners are complex and certainly not straightforward. His choreography blurs lines of tradition. Tango Vitrola presents the tango as a dance between two people, not as a dance defined by their gender. The result is a work of strength, beauty and subtlety.
Ballet Hispanico performed Alejandro Cervera’s sleek and sexy Tango Vitrola (1987) during our sold-out show at The Apollo last December. If you missed it then, fear not! Tango Vitrola will be performed for the remainder of our 25th New York Season at The Joyce, now through April 28th. For ticket and performance information, please visit our website HERE.
Last Friday at the Dana Center for the Performing Arts, the Ballet Hispanico Company previewed Sortijas, a brand new work by leading Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto. Cayetano, based in Munich, traveled to our studios last week to set his creation on the dancers, and we sat down with him for a chat about his personal career and his creative vision.
Ballet Hispanico’s collaboration with Cayetano has been an endeavor several years in the making. His new work, Sortijas, was intended to premiere during Ballet Hispanico’s 40th Anniversary Season, but his broken achilles forced a postponement. This setback did not discourage Cayetano, however. He said, “These were beautiful mistakes. There is a fate in everything, and this work was meant to happen.”
Sortijas, a lush duet set to music by Lhasa de Sela, reflects Cayetano’s commitment to the personal and intimate aspects of dance. For Cayetano, choreographing is an exploration of the self: “I aim to kill all my demons in the studio.” And he encourages his dancers to do the same. He empowers the dancers to tap into their own experiences and infuse them into their interpretation of the movement.
In addition to the beautiful movement and music in the work, Cayetano has collaborated with the fashion label Talbot Runhof, a German-American duo based in Munich, to design original costumes for Sortijas. Cayetano previously worked with them on his production of Carmen, and he is certain that the new costumes will make the dancers look “amazing” and “perfect” on stage. For more of the designer’s amazing collections, visit their website HERE.
Cayetano is certainly a busy choreographer: for the rest of the year, he will travel from Munich to Santa Fe, Sao Paulo, back to Santa Fe, and to The Netherlands. Despite his demanding schedule, he never compromises his work or his vision. A piece can never be truly finished for him: “Dance is a living art. Like a child’s education, the creation never ends. The process can never be stopped.”
To witness the evolution of Sortijas, you can catch its world premiere at Ballet Hispanico’s 25th New York Season at the Joyce Theater April 16-28, 2013. Visit our website HERE for complete performance and ticket information.
For a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the piece, check out the photographs below taken during last week’s rehearsals!
Images © Joshua Preston
This season, Ballet Hispanico Company members have been impacting children’s lives across the globe, from the Dominican Republic to New York City. After their successful evening at the Apollo on December 1, the dancers headed down to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a series of dance workshops in collaboration with the New Orleans Ballet Association.
To get an inside look at our dancers working with children, check out this video featuring Donald Borror and Martina Calcagno teaching Latin Social Dance at a New Orleans elementary school.
Next week, the Company takes off for an action-packed week in Santa Barbara, California. Click HERE for a complete listing of events, and stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes information.
December 1st marks Ballet Hispanico’s return to the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. Last year’s premiere was a life-changing moment for our Company dancers, and this year will be no different.
We asked mix of dancers new and returning to the Apollo about their anticipation of the big night.
Company member Melissa Fernandez will perform on the Apollo stage for the first time this year:
“As a first season dancer with Ballet Hispanico, I’ve approached every tour and every performance with great excitement and joy. Performing at the Apollo will mark our first New York performance of this 2012-2013 season. This fact brings me even more excitement and anticipation because I have many family members who live in New Jersey and will have the opportunity to see me do what I love as a professional and support all the diverse and talented artists that make up Ballet Hispanico.
“Dancing at the historic and famous Apollo Theater will be a memorable experience in and of itself. Harlem’s Apollo Theater has been the stage where “stars are born and legends are made.” It will be an enormous honor to dance on the stage where such great artists as Duke Ellington and Bruce Springsteen have performed. As a new member of the Harlem neighborhood and community, I am looking forward to performing for the people of my community in Harlem and New York City as a whole. I firmly believe that Ballet Hispanico’s presence at the Apollo Theater is a positive and enriching artistic endeavor that will enable the continued growth of Hispanic/Latin-infused contemporary dance. I am proud and honored to be a part of it.”
Company dancer Donald Borror, now in his third season at BH, offers a different perspective on the upcoming performance at the Apollo:
“Performing at the Apollo is a big deal. It means something to everybody. You usually don’t have to explain much when you say you’re dancing at the Apollo.
Backstage, and especially in the dressing rooms, there’s an energy that is really special. You literally can feel the history oozing out of the walls. While onstage, the balconies are so enveloping, it feels like the audience is truly a part of the performance. It’s all very inspiring!
I am also thrilled to be working with Paquito D’Rivera! Paquito is just the nicest, coolest guy…which makes how incredibly talented he is even better!”
Donald Borror in A vueltas con los ochenta (c) Paula Lobo
To see Melissa and Donald in the World Premiere of A vueltas con los ochenta, click HERE for tickets to the Apollo!
Ballet Hispanico’s return to the Apollo Theater is just around the corner! All of the dancers and staff are busy preparing for the big night, which will include three Ballet Hispanico premieres and live music by Latin Jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera.
Behind the scenes, Wardrobe Director Diana Ruettiger is hard at work crafting new costumes for Danzón, a piece choreographed by Ballet Hispanico Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro. We visited her workshop last week to speak about her creative process and the long, but rewarding, journey of designing for Danzón.
Her office is filled with fabric, mannequins, props, and fashion photos for inspiration. When faced with a new collection of costumes to design, Diana’s first steps are to watch, consulate, and experiment. She has been attending Company rehearsals, watching taped footage of the work, and meeting with Mr. Vilaro about his vision for the piece.
And his vision?
“Purple and lace. That’s what he wanted.”
Diana got to work. With a sense of direction for color and texture, she also had many other factors to consider: how do the dancers need to move in the costumes? What design will work best on all the women’s body types? How can she capture the essence of the piece in her design?
She showed us what she had so far. She found some beautiful fabric in her own collection that evoked lace. There was one slight problem: the fabric was pink. Diana, who always thinks fast on her feet, simply dyed it an elegant shade of purple.
For now, she’s playing around with a few different ideas and isn’t exactly sure what the final product will be. One thing is certain, however: Diana’s costumes will be as beautiful, creative, and fabulous as always.
You can see these new costumes for yourself when Ballet Hispanico performs at the Apollo Theater on December 1, 2012 at 7:30pm. For complete performance and ticket information, visit our website here.
Until then, enjoy this sneak preview of Diana Ruettiger’s new Danzón costumes!
Ballet Hispanico has been in full swing celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month! We kicked it off with a free performance for public school children at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens. The second company BHdos has been busy performing all over New York City, including the ¡Fiesta! celebration at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
As we continue our celebration, we bring you more stories from the Ballet Hispanico Company dancers!
Lauren Alzamora: “My father was born in Ecuador, but my siblings and I were not raised speaking Spanish in the home. Through the eclectic repertoire at BH I am able to explore the Latina side of my heritage as it relates to the many facets of Hispanic culture worldwide – I get to give that side of me a voice, so to speak. Not to mention, I have an opportunity each day to steadily improve my Spanish language skills!”
Melissa Fernandez: “As the daughter of Cuban parents, it’s always been important in our family to embrace and remember the traditions and customs of our culture. As a Cuban-American dancer, I feel great joy and pride in having the opportunity to express myself as a strong and creative Latin woman within such a culturally diverse company as Ballet Hispanico.”
Jamal Rashann Callender: “Ballet Hispanico’s diversity is very radiant, and still growing. The Company is thrilling, exciting, and on the verge of anew. I recently learned I have family from Cuba! ¡Eso es!”
Jessica Alejandra Wyatt: “Ballet Hispanico has become a wonderful home for me because it gives me the opportunity to combine the expression of my beloved art form along with the Hispanic culture I am proud to be a part of.”
Mario Espinoza: “I was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, so I spent my childhood influenced by Latino music and dance. After moving to the United States at the age of 17, I refined my technical ballet jazz and modern training, while holding tight to my Mexican roots. Now a dynamic dancer who fuses the pulse of his Latino heritage with the technique of ballet, I flourish in the dance environment that Ballet Hispanico provides.”