Sortijas – A World Premiere

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!

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Images © Joshua Preston

Anticipation for the Apollo

Here at Ballet Hispanico, we returned from a restful Thanksgiving holiday eager for our upcoming performance at the Apollo Theater! After months of preparation, our performance is just days away.

No one is as excited as our Company dancers. Let’s check in with Martina Calcagno, who makes her debut at the Apollo Theater on December 1, and Lauren Alzamora about why they cannot wait to take the stage.

Martina Calcagno:

“It’s my first season with the company, and I’m excited about so many aspects. It’s going to be my first show in New York, and I’m honored that it’s in a theater as historic as the Apollo.

“I’m excited about the ballets we are going to perform because they show the diversity and the versatility of the company and our repertoire.

“The Apollo is also a great venue to perform with live music. Our show will demonstrate how two different kinds of art can meld so perfectly together and create such a magical atmosphere.”

Lauren Alzamora:

“Thinking back on last year, I recall being excited and nervous for Ballet Hispanico’s premiere at the Apollo Theater.  I didn’t know what to expect, especially with the live music component for two pieces…. And also the pressure of having Mr. Vilaro’s world premiere of Asuka, his first piece choreographed for BH.  The experience turned out to be incredibly enthralling and quite memorable.  The energy from the audience was palpable before we even opened the curtain.

“I have never worked with Paquito D’Rivera before but I am very excited to do so. I have heard such great things about him!  I think his and the other musicians’ improvisations will add a whole new dimension to Danzón.

“When there is live music, we as dancers tune in much more intently – and if something takes us by surprise (as it most certainly will) we pull together that much stronger.

“The Apollo is just around the corner! I am curious to see how people respond to their performance this year, as the program is quite different from last year. It is definitely a consolation of sorts to be able to picture the stage and the beautiful house in my mind’s eye, as I re-live last year’s shows. I hope Ballet Hispanico returns year after year to conjure up and take part in the magic of this historic theater.”

We all look forward to making magic on December 1! Find complete program and ticket information on our website here.


Designing for Danzon

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!

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The Choreography Unfolds

The latest installment of our Instituto Coreográfico footage from William Atwater features reflections from choreographer Abdul Latif and our male Company dancers in some eye-catching costumes. Watch the video below to understand the artistry and growth happening here at the BH Studios.

William Atwater – Instituto Coreografico 2012 Abdul Latif Part 2 from Ballet Hispanico on Vimeo.

Dance Into Fashion with Our Company This Thursday!

Tomorrow night the Junior Society of Ballet Hispanico–our youngest group of supporters ages 21-35–will throw its 3rd annual Dance into Fashion benefit! A celebration of fashion and dance, the event will showcase the creations of Rebecca Taylor clothing and Pamela Love jewelry in a dazzling performance by the Ballet Hispanico Company.

Two days before the performance, Diana Ruetigger, BH’s Wardrobe Supervisor, and Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro gathered up the Company dancers and matched them with the refined and whimsical clothing and jewelry. Take a look behind the scenes (pics below) to see them in action! For more than just a glimpse, be sure to purchase your ticket and save us a dance.

To gain a greater understanding of how dance intertwines with fashion, we interviewed Rebecca Taylor and Pamela Love’s fashion team, as well as Company dancer Lauren Alzamora.

Rebecca Taylor’s fashion team

What style does Rebecca Taylor’s clothing portray? How does this style match with the art of dance?

Rebecca Taylor’s clothing combines a playful use of color, prints and textures with classic silhouettes and has signature embellishments that make each piece feel special. Rebecca’s modern aesthetic allows the customer to express themselves through their style, similar to how ballet allows dancers to express themselves through performances.

Did Rebecca Taylor’s background as a dancer have any influence in the clothing?

Definitely! Rebecca has always loved the ballet and it has been a source of inspiration since she was an aspiring designer. Ballet is beautiful and ethereal, and the influence of dance can be seen in the fit and movement of the pieces in each collection.

How does Rebecca Taylor’s brand match with Ballet Hispanico?

Rebecca Taylor and Ballet Hispanico both celebrate individuality by allowing people to express their own personal style.

Pamela Love’s fashion team

What style does Pamela Love’s jewelry portray?

Her collections, like Love herself, blend mystery with romance, reminiscent of stores both whimsical and dark.

Who inspires Pamela Love?

Pamela Love draws her inspiration from many of her favorite artists, including Joseph Cornell, Lee Bontecou, Hieronymous Bosch, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Francesco Clemente. Her creativity is further fueled by her passion for nature and science, as well as astronomy, astrology, religion, magic and folk jewelry.

Company dancer Lauren Alzamora

What is your favorite clothing/jewelry article from this performance?

The giant ring I’ll get to wear!

How do you feel Rebecca Taylor’s clothing and Pamela Love’s jewelry represent the dance?

Since the performance is going to be a tango, the jewelry is bold, strong and heavy, qualities that will be exhibited during the dance. The clothing is elaborate but sophisticated, both qualities we want to bring into the dance.

How BH Preps for an Outdoor Performance (i.e. Bryant Park!)

We hope you and your family will join us TODAY, September 18th, at 6:00 PM for a FREE outdoor performance by the Ballet Hispanico Company at the Bryant Park Fall Festival!  Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis; picnics and blankets are more than welcome.

Preparing for an outdoor performance such as this one is exciting, but it also takes a little more behind-the-scenes work. We asked our Artistic Director, Technical Director, and a BH Company Dancer to share the ways in which they are preparing differently for the performance at Bryant Park. Here’s what they said…

Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro
Preparing the Ballet Hispanico Company for an outdoor performance is no different than preparing for our indoor performance. However, we do need to alter cues that were designed for a dark proscenium theater. For instance, if I asked a dancer to move when the light changes color in a certain ballet, they would not be able to do so under sunlight because you can’t see the color or light change. Daylight also tends to take away texture that theatrical lighting gives on stage. Since the mystery of lighting is removed, the dancers must be more expressive in both movement and, when necessary, emotion.

Technical Director Joshua Preston
Preparing for an outdoor venue is slightly different simply because of the lack of protection from the elements. As a lighting designer, daylight is my biggest foe since there isn’t any guarantee how bright or dark it will be outside. The natural lighting also changes as we progress into the evening. Weather is the other variable that we don’t deal with in a standard theater. Bryant Park has been gracious enough to offer us heaters in our dressing rooms and we have alerted the dancers regarding the possibility of a slight chill.

Company Dancer Donald Borror
Getting ready for this show at Bryant Park has been great. Dancing outside is always an amazing experience… And usually has some pretty important variables!

Temperature is huge, because when the sun goes down, the air gets significantly cooler, which isn’t so good for our bodies. I always try to pack lots of warm-up clothing options because the weather is never what you expect… Sometimes you need sunglasses and swimsuits in the same day you need a blanket to keep warm offstage at night! But that was in Guatemala (where we toured last year) and NYC is far more temperate, so while I’m not expecting anything too crazy I’ll come prepared either way.

Also depending on the time of day, it might be sunny still which means we will have to be extra careful with our exits and entrances because we usually do them with blackouts, making for a more invisible get-away. With the extra light, after a really hard dance it’s an added challenge to get offstage gracefully when we usually run away in the dark, which sometimes isn’t as graceful as you would expect 🙂

It’s going to be a great show! I’m most excited to be performing outside in New York City because that means it’s free general admission! I can finally tell friends “it’s your chance to come check us out! No charge!”  Hope to see you there!

Si Cuba at Ballet Hispanico

On May 21st, Ballet Hispanico opened its doors to welcome Si Cuba Festival for a day of dance and discussion.

A little about Si Cuba!: From March to June, fourteen New York institutions convene to celebrate the rich artistic vitality of Cuba, presenting ¡Sí Cuba!, a festival showcasing the diversity of Cuban culture from the traditional to the modern. Join us for screenings of award-winning films; lively concerts of son, rumba, hip-hop, and more by musical legends and rising stars; intimate discussions with Cuban writers, musicians, and thinkers; dance performances, from the classical to contemporary; compelling visual art exhibitions; and more as we discover the creative spirit of Cuba in forms both old and new.
BH presented two master classes that afternoon. Cuban Ballet with Caridad Martinez and Afro-Cuban with Rebecca Bliss.  It was great to all ages working up a sweat! Here’s a quick video of Rebecca’s class:

The festivities concluded with a showcase presentation featuring excerpts from works by Maray Ramis Gutierrez, Pedro Ruíz, Eduardo Vilaro, and Septime Webre.   Eduardo Vilaro, along with Pedro Ruíz engaged in a discussion with Cuban author and award-winning journalist, Achy Obejas, on how their Cuban roots inspire and inform their work.  It was an insightful and delightful evening that capped off a great program.

Si Cuba continues through June! For more information and a listing of events, please visit