A Look Back at 2011

As we enjoy the success of our performances at the Apollo Theater this past Saturday, December 17, all of us at Ballet Hispanico are feeling proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in 2011: a record Gala fundraiser in April; the launch of BH2, our second company for pre-professional dancers; record proceeds at our Junior Society benefit; and of course, our debut at the Apollo.

Former Company dancer and current BH2 Rehearsal Director (and 2nd floor office cutie) Nicholas Villeneuve has been with Ballet Hispanico long enough to have witnessed many of the organization’s milestones. He has also experienced a year of many personal changes. And so as we near the end of 2011, who better than him to say a few words about this year of transitions? And might we add how lucky we feel to have him with us in the External Affairs and E&O office!

It’s hard to believe that 2011 is drawing to an end, a year which saw numerous significant accomplishments being made at Ballet Hispanico.

A very famous song quotes “what a difference a day makes.” Well, let’s take it further and say “what a difference a year makes!”
Trial, turmoil and pensiveness always seem to arise when we are on the cusp of greatness. Not only have we finally begun to see the amazing growth of the Company via our new artistic leader, Eduardo Vilaro, but the School has grown by leaps and bounds in it’s tutelage and the Education & Outreach department now houses the official second company of Ballet Hispanico, BH2.

As a former Company member I have witnessed the institution go through a myriad of changes, inventing and reinventing itself on the wheel. We have always had a strong voice in the community and a plethora of riches in the Latino diaspora to infuse into and onto anyone that comes into contact with us. Finally the vision is at its clearest and we continue to climb, waving our banner proudly and valiantly in the winds of education, preservation and artistry.

Having been given the opportunity to run and direct the second company, education and creativity have always been strong passions of mine. To be able to mold emerging artists–teaching them tricks of the trade, giving them survival tools that I have gathered along my journey, and refining their technical abilities–has left me overjoyed, satiated and with a huge sense of accomplishment.

More often than not we doubt ourselves and question our capability and integrity when put to the test. However, the more we choose to run from the challenge the more it seeks you out. I feel I have been molded and mentored by three people that have made me capable of stepping into these shoes and without hesitation start this upward climb to develop a new, vibrant and valuable sector of Ballet Hispanico. Linda Kent, Eduardo Vilaro and Tina Ramirez have taught me the values of this art form and equipped me with the armor to pass on not only the gift of dance, but of what it is to breath and give life to something that you believe in. BH2 may be only an embryo, but the outreach and audiences that we have achieved in our short sojourn is unbelievable and it proves that if there is a will, there’s a way.

I have reveled in watching these 10 aspiring dancers figure out their passion and sell themselves to this art completely and unselfishly. And this program is certainly the way to reach demographics that the first company cannot penetrate, and help maintain our organizational mission of fostering education in the arts.

I feel very blessed to be in my seventh year with this organization, and to have been able to wear so many hats and be so many things on so many occasions. I have sold my soul to dance and in so doing to this institution. I will be forever grateful for the love, generosity and lessons that I gain daily and I feverishly anticipate the next growth spurt in 2012.

As I shared with Eduardo recently about his new work Asuka, it reminds me of immigration mixed with a sense of infectiousness. We as a people of many diverse races arrive with so much to offer, wondering if we will ever “get in,” be accepted or make it. Yet, because of the gift, we take a chance and before we know it we are infected with influences wherever we lay our roots and grow. The movement is infectious, the music is infectious, we Ballet Hispanico are infectious wherever we go and for that we will prevail.  This work marks that new period and our time to reap the benefits of well-laid plans.

Let us continue to dream and make this home the best it has ever been!!!

Nicholas Villeneuve and the BH2 dancers

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BH2’s First School Performance: A Total Success!

Those of you following us on Facebook know all about BH2, Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro’s training initiative for young and talented dancers. For you newer fans, BH2 is Ballet Hispanico’s second company, created to help pre-professional dancers develop their artistry and prepare them for a life of learning in the professional dance field. As a component of Ballet Hispanico’s Education and Outreach (E&O) division, BH2 expands the reach of the main company by providing performances, workshops and lecture demonstrations to schools, community centers and organizations.

On Wednesday, October 5th, BH2 performed at the Portledge School in Locust Valley. Principal Alan Cohen invited Ballet Hispanico as the featured assembly for Hispanic Heritage month. Our E&O team (Nicholas, Franchesca, AnaMaria and Josh) were on site to ensure the experience was engaging, well-presented and fun. In a gym packed with students and parents, the Portledge School was transported on a journey through Cuba, Brazil and Mexico. The kids were particularly blown away; click on the pics below to see their adorable handwritten messages to the dancers!