Instituto Coreográfico: its past, present and future

During Instituto Coreográfico 2012 while the dancers, choreographers and filmmakers were all busy living in the moment, Ballet Hispanico Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro took some time to reflect on the Instituto’s legacy and trajectory.

Watch this video to learn more about the Instituto’s mission, the vision for its future, and its relevance in today’s society.


A Chat with Choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa!

Ballet Hispanico is undoubtedly a fan of choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. For its New York season at The Joyce Theater, the Company will be performing three of her works: Locked Up Laura (2008) Mad’moiselle (2010) and Nube Blanco (New York premiere).

Everyone was thrilled to have Annabelle back in the studios recently! Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro had this to say:

“Annabelle is an inspiring artist. I am thrilled that she is back in the studio with the dancers as she has such a positive influence on their artistry. Her process allows the dancers to find themselves within the movement and intention while raising their performance potential. Her work, Nube Blanco, is a perfect blend of humor and contemporary investigation and I feel fortunate to have her be part of the new artistic aesthetic we are building at Ballet Hispanico.”

We recently caught up with Annabelle and asked her a few questions about her vision as a choreographer.

BH: This is Nube Blanco’s NYC premiere and the first time it is being performed by Ballet Hispanico. How, if at all, are you adapting the piece? How do the distinct flavors of the Ballet Hispanico dancers affect your choreography?

Annabelle: More than the Ballet Hispanico dancers, what influences me to change small things in Nube is what I have learned from life and arts in the past three years. This gives me another perspective on the piece.

BH: You originally composed Locked Up Laura in 2008 and Mad’moiselle in 2010. Does your perspective on the pieces change as time passes? Do they mean different things to you now?

Annabelle: I’m very clear on Locked Up Laura and I’ve been working with the dancers on what it originally was about when I created it. Likewise with Nube Blanco; we worked especially on my original intentions. Those are the same to me as they were three years ago. What I mostly tweaked was the rhythm of the piece. Unfortunately, for Mad’moiselle I only get one rehearsal with the dancers!

BH: What are you most looking forward to about working with Ballet Hispanico for the Joyce season?

Annabelle: Well, Nube Blanco is a revival so it’s always exciting to revisit a piece and to present it for the first time to New York City!

BH: Finally, what other exciting projects do you have coming up?

Annabelle: I start next week with my first narrative full-length ballet for Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire. Very excited about that, indeed!

To stay up-to-date with Annabelle’s projects, please visit her website and come see them performed April 17-29 at The Joyce Theater!

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Photos: Eduardo Patino, NYC


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


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!


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!