Without a doubt, 2016 has been a trying year, and this past week especially reminds me of the importance of the work we do to support voices of color and gender in our curation. Long-term relationships with artists have been a hallmark of this company since Tina Ramirez’s founding. It continues to be an important value as we still struggle for recognition, equity, and visibility.
In order to change the cultural and critical lens, it is crucial to focus on those choreographers creating works that reshape, reverse, and at times, replay the essence of our culture. Artists such as Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, who has developed into a much sought-after choreographer in both the ballet and contemporary worlds of dance, or Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, another prodigious choreographer who continues to astound audiences with his masterful humor and humanity, are among that group.
“It is crucial to focus on those choreographers creating works that reshape, reverse, and at times, replay the essence of our culture.”
I have known and worked with these fine artists for over a decade and am honored to continue bringing their voices–different voices–to our audiences. This weekend, please join us at the Apollo Theater in coming together in the name of art, and unity.
Artistic Director & CEO
Ballet Hispanico is proud to celebrate 45 years of sharing and reflecting the diversity of Latino cultures with the launch of a new brand that will propel the organization into its next 45 years.
Artistic Director & CEO Eduardo Vilaro, who brought a fiercely contemporary aesthetic to the organization six years ago, sought a design that embodies the bold, inspiring and uniquely Latino qualities that characterize Ballet Hispanico’s professional dance company, School of Dance and community engagement programs.
“Given the ever-increasing influence of Latinos on the cultural landscape of this country, it felt like the right time to re-introduce Ballet Hispanico as the new expression of American contemporary dance,” said Eduardo Vilaro. “Founder Tina Ramirez’s mission of celebrating the beauty of Latino culture through dance remains unchanged—but we now push every day to challenge, through our work, people’s notions of what it means to be Latino in 2016 and beyond. The new brand strikes a beautiful balance between honoring the organization’s roots and embracing our forward-thinking spirit.”
“The new brand strikes a beautiful balance between honoring the organization’s roots and embracing our forward-thinking spirit.”
Ballet Hispanico’s thanks go to branding firm Project 2050, led by its founder and Ballet Hispanico Board member Phil Colón along with designer Daniel Arenas, for capturing the future of Ballet Hispanico with their design; to the Board of Ballet Hispanico for their unwavering support; and to Ballet Hispanico’s marketing team for their key input.
Please share your thoughts on our new look with the hashtag #45yearsnew!
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.
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.”
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!
Click through the image to see this interview with Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro and company dancer Kimberly Van Woesik!
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.
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:
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.
“Performing in our nation’s national theater was a major reflection of my American dream.”
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.
“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.”
“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.
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!