Ballet Hispánico en Familia: BHdos, the second company

Did you know? In addition to receiving specialized dance training, the talented young dancers of second company BHdos have opportunities to perform on the mainstage for our wider audiences. After a successful run at the Apollo Theater this past fall, they’re sharing the stage with the main company again for the En Familia program of the company’s 45th Anniversary Season at the Joyce Theater.

BHdos dancers with Ballet Hispanico's Artistic Director, Eduardo Vilaro, at the Joyce Theater!

BHdos dancers with Ballet Hispanico’s Artistic Director, Eduardo Vilaro, at the Joyce Theater!

We decided to catch up with some of our second company dancers to get more insight into their experiences performing as part of BHdos:

You get to perform company works for our youngest fans year-round, which can be a very different experience from performing for adult audiences. What’s one thing that surprised you about dancing for younger fans?

Stefanie Roper Headshot - websiteSTEFANIE ROPER: The commentary they make throughout the dance–we can hear little comments on stage when we’re performing. It is so fun to hear their simple remarks from what they see, and their screams and applause are always THE BEST. They make you feel like you’re a celebrity!

 

 

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NICOLE NERUP: I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed to discover how enthusiastic the younger fans are about dance! I swear I have felt the closest I will ever feel to being Taylor Swift or the “Queen of Salsa” herself, Celia Cruz, at our performances for young people.

 

 

 

Ashley Anduiza - websiteASHLEY ANDUIZA: I am constantly surprised by how much detail our younger fans observe. Their curiosity and questions excite me and open another perspective that I enjoy exploring and that are just as valid as any others.

 

 

 

 

What motivates you to dance?

image1NICK FEARON: The thrill of being on stage is what keeps me going, and so is my mom. She has worked so hard for me to be where I am today that all I want to do is be the best dancer I can be for myself and also for her.

 

 

 

Christopher Wilson HeadshotCHRISTOPHER R. WILSON: My motivation to dance stems from the sheer fact that I know I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else!

 

 

 

 

Iosu_Headshot - websiteIOSU BASCARAN: Getting to learn new choreography and also getting to work with an incredibly talented and motivated group of dancers!

 

 

 

 

What’s it like sharing the stage with the main company dancers?

Criss Rodriguez - websiteCRISS RODRIGUEZ: Just having them around is inspiring and a boost of confidence and joy. To have their help is great. Makes me feel like a part of the family, always trying to find ways to improve. It’s a great feeling of energy. They are always looking out for each other, which is amazing.

 

 

ASHLEY: Being able to see, hear and even work together through certain steps with company members that have performed the same roles in the past gives us such valuable information that enhances our experience and delivery.

STEFANIE: I can feel their energy and support in dancing as a group! I know that we all support each other and want all of us to succeed–that is rare. The main company dancers are so approachable and they always have great tips and tricks how to accent or fulfill certain movement that you are struggling with.

 

What’s the best question you’ve heard during a Q&A?

IOSU: How do you change costumes so fast?

STEFANIE: Why are you all so pretty?

NICK: The best question I’ve heard would have to be when a kid asked me about my hair and who cuts it. It was a great plug for my hairdresser Richard.

 

Any pre-show rituals or lucky charms?

HannahHeadshot02 - websiteHANNAH JEW: I like to do my four minute plank series and eat a banana and drink a bottle of Gatorade. I also have some cards with encouraging words from my mentor that I keep in my makeup box.

 

 

 

NICK: While I’m waiting in the wings I have to shake out my whole body and pop my toe knuckles.

NICOLE: Before every show I always do the same pre-class warm up that I have been doing every day for the past 4 years. Sometimes I shorten or vary it, but the elements are the same. This ritual not only prepares my body but also centers me–reminding of my younger self, how much I have grown, and why I love what I do.

CHRISTOPHER: I listen to a playlist I created called “Let’s Werk.”

 

If you weren’t a dancer, you would be a:

HANNAH: Gifted education specialist in a school system.

STEFANIE: School teacher or a full-time mom.

CHRISTOPHER: Finance/marketing advisor of an arts organization.

IOSU: I’m currently studying finance and mathematics, so possibly something having to do with that.

NICOLE: Writer, choreographer, or lawyer.

CRISS: Veterinarian, or marine biologist.

NICK: Wildlife veterinarian.

ASHLEY: Veterinarian! My career has never come close to going down this path but I believe that my passion for nurturing animals runs at the same level as my passion for dance.

 

Merde to our dancers on their Joyce Theater debut! Get a taste of the Ballet Hispanico En Familia experience in this video below:

 

 

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Instituto Coreográfico 2014: 10 Minutes with Miguel Mancillas

For the latest installment of Instituto Coreográfico, Ballet Hispanico’s choreography lab for Latino artists, we welcome Mexico-based choreographer Miguel Mancillas to our studios to work with our dancers. We caught up with him recently for a quick chat on the experience, which will culminate tonight in a public showing. Here’s what he had to say on this collaborative process:

IMG_0761How have you approached working with the Ballet Hispanico dancers?
I find it really interesting the way dancers believe in their skills and training and what they know or understand about their own body. For me it’s really, really important to build communication with dancers so we can go farther together. It’s hard to build on their movement or ask for their own movement without them having trust in you. I love to respect that because I believe that they are all artists, not just people who can move.

Is it a challenge that you’re only spending 2 weeks with the dancers?
Not really, for me it’s more like a laboratory work process and at the same time I’m just trying to know them as much as possible, and also to see what they think about my ideas. For example, what is an animalistic thing or an instinct? What does it mean to own your body, if you really think that you make decisions for your body, or is it your mind, or is it society? We were working in different approaches to that.

For them, it has been a real challenge in that way, but at the same time they know how to do a lot of things—they are really good dancers. Some of them enjoy much more to challenge themselves. But I think it’s little things that I can say to them, like to be sure that they are are not lying to themselves, but not for me. To me, I would never know, but for them, they would know.IMG_0877

As a choreographer, what do you gain from a program like Instituto Coreográfico?
For me, I’m making them do things that I already do with my dancers, but I like to see where they feel more challenged and where they feel more fine, so they can take that movement and use it as their own. I make a lot of images in my mind and I work with that, but I also don’t just like to have them try to do something that is already in mind, something that I’ve predicted–it’s better to search together.

“I believe that they are all artists, not just people who can move.”

How would you describe your style of your choreography?
It’s really hard–I always say that each piece makes me be different. Sometimes I go really abstract, sometimes I go with storytelling. But, I have the same obsession: what makes us move? Sexuality, fears of being alone, and the vulnerabilities we have as a species. We are the weakest. We have a great brain but our body is really weak. And so, I feel like we build a lot of masks around that, and that is in all of my pieces.

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Gracias, Miguel! We look forward to seeing your work!


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!


Connecting Communities Coast to Coast

Today kicks off Ballet Hispanico’s week-long residency in sunny Santa Barbara, California. Our Company dancers will be busy giving free classes, workshops and performances, but they will also be supported by a fierce group of Ballet Hispanico educational staff. AnaMaria Correa, BH’s Director of Education & Outreach and the School of Dance, will join Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro in narrating many of the performances, and Franchesca Cabrera, E&O’s Program Coordinator, will teach classes in the local schools.

This trip is particularly meaningful for Franchesca, a Santa Barbara native, because it marks her triumphant return to the city that prepared her so well for the successful performance and professional career she holds today.

We spoke to Franchesca over the phone from Santa Barbara as she waited out the holidays and her reunion with Ballet Hispanico. She offers a unique perspective on the significance, both for herself and for the communities, of BH’s residency there. She couldn’t stop expressing how lucky she was to have the opportunity to connect Ballet Hispanico with a town as rich in dance as Santa Barbara.

“My universes are colliding!” she exclaimed.

Franchesca spent her formative years learning and dancing in Santa Barbara, and she has carried this solid foundation with her across the country and back again, literally. Her current success as a performer in New York and an administrator at Ballet Hispanico supports her belief that you can make it anywhere if you stay positive, keep moving forward, and are open to new definitions of yourself.

“Santa Barbara afforded me everything, all of the skills that I needed to succeed at Ballet Hispanico. I can be more than one thing–a teacher, an administrator, and performer–while staying true to my roots.”

There is a real anticipation in the air prior to BH’s arrival in California. Franchesca spent the holidays making connections with everyone in the dance world there–old teachers, former students, peers–to get them excited about Ballet Hispanico’s tour. Santa Barbara, rife with Hispanic dance traditions so intricately connected with BH’s own mission, imparts a sense of family and community to anyone who enters.

Franchesca, now a vital member of BH’s family, cannot wait to help facilitate the exchange of ideas and dance between her hometown and her chosen career. Ballet Hispanico cannot wait to see what will come of this promising new relationship with Santa Barbara.

Read even more about Franchesca in this great article by the Santa Barbara Independent HERE and visit our website HERE to learn more about Education & Outreach at Ballet Hispanico.


Ballet Hispanico in Schools Across the Country

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.

Ballet Hispanico Workshop at Chateau Estates Elementary from Jefferson Parish Public Schools on Vimeo.

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.


Cushnie et Ochs Dances into Fashion with BH!

Ballet Hispanico is so excited to partner with designers Cushnie et Ochs for our Junior Society’s 2012 Dance Into Fashion event! On October 18, this annual benefit will celebrate the intersections of dance and fashion, featuring a presentation by our Company dancers dressed in Cushnie et Ochs and raising money for our Education & Outreach division.  Co-chairs Paul Arnhold and Janna Raskopf have enlisted Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Grace Gummer, Hannah Bronfman and over 70 committee members to host the event.

With less than a month until Dance Into Fashion, Ballet Hispanico visited the Cushnie et Ochs design headquarters to discuss the creative details of the evening. Cushnie et Ochs just completed a very successful New York Fashion Week, so the studio was full of their latest pieces. As their Fashion Week runway show looped on a TV in the background, Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro couldn’t help but gasp at their beautiful collection and imagine the Company dancers in their clothes.

We met with designer Carly Cushnie, who brought out the look books from their various collections. The atmosphere in the room was definitely excited as Mr. Vilaro and Carly brainstormed how to best dress the dancers to showcase their clothing while also highlighting the dancers’ movement.

BH Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro and Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs

The pieces in the Cushnie et Ochs collections certainly have a lot of movement in them. At one point, Carly admitted that they had never designed for dance before. Mr. Vilaro quickly responded, “But you already have!” Check out this gorgeous dress below, and you’ll see just how perfect their collections are for Ballet Hispanico.

If you want to see these looks up close and in person, then you should buy your tickets for Dance Into Fashion now! Visit the Junior Society page on our website to find full event information. Hurry–special pre-sale ticket prices expire on September 22 and this event is sure to sell out.


Ballet Hispanico and NOBA

Deputy School Director Nicholas Villeneuve and some of the Ballet Hispanico Company members have traveled down to Louisiana to teach at the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) for their summer residency.

Nicholas has been teaching in New Orleans for the past week. He comes back to New York this week, but he will return to NOBA for the final showings of the summer. He has shared his experience so far:

Nestled in a quaint corner on St. Charles Ave. in a spectacular old guest house, I have been here for a week enjoying warm southern hospitality. Ballet Hispanico and the New Orleans Ballet Association have partnered once again to lend some of New York’s strongest tutelage to New Orleans. Later this year, Ballet Hispanico is slated to perform on on NOBA’s bill. The NOBA summer residency consists of two members of Ballet Hispanico’s main company, Vanessa Valecillos and Jamal Callendar, along with myself teaching technique classes and creating works that will be showcased in their final performance at NOCCA on Sunday, August 4th.

Our presenter Jenny Hamilton has arranged quite the schedule as students are rotating on four individual tracks similar to our own intensive in NYC. I have had the pleasure of working with the more advanced student groups. While Richard Chen See, formerly of the Paul Taylor Company (and an Instituto Coreográfico panelist!), is setting an excerpt of Esplanade on the green track, I have created a new work for the purple track titled “Incantations.” The work explores a calling of souls and chanting to new life while paying homage to the deep rooted rituals and spirituality of the south.

Such rich and vast plethora of cultures exists here, you can feel it in the streets as you drive by the stunning mansions, churches and old buildings along every street. I have enjoyed thoroughly my experience this last week and will be returning to NYC this week to revisit our own summer intensive with Director, AnaMaria Correa. Fortunately for me, I will be coming back to NOLA to see my students’ performance on the 4th. This experience is a great opportunity for both the students of NOBA and the organizations. The students in New Orleans are privy to a wide variety of highly trained and accomplished artists and companies. Ballet Hispanico and NOBA bring much knowledge to these young dancers and aid their professional development throughout the four-week dance residency.

Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro has had a long standing relationship with NOBA and pledges to deliver only the best to each community that his company visits. I would say this residency is on its way to success, and I can’t wait to see the final performances. I have handed off my work to the amazing dancers of Ballet Hispanico today. I know when I return it will be terrific.The students have attended all my classes thus far with an eagerness and a fire that inspires me. Each day I am able to see them improve a bit at a time. I enjoy teaching and I am honored to pass on the legacy that was once given to me!

Till next week, NOLA!

Reporting from the beautiful sunny south,

Deputy Director, Nicholas Villeneuve

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