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!

Company Dancer Kimberly Van Woesik: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Right after graduating from Southern Methodist University, life quickly began to transitiion from university life to the real world! How exciting! I spent my beginning two weeks of the summer in NYC with Ballet Hispanico, taking part in the “Instituto Coreográfico” with choreographer George Cespedes…what a treat! Not only was this my first adventure with the company, who welcomed me with open arms, but it was also nothing short of inspirational and challenging. As artists we collaborated and pushed each other to new limits, workshopping a piece that was unique to our individual ideas. I felt very blessed to be able to come and work with my new company for a little bit before the season started, since I got a taste of what things would be like when I got back to NY..and of course I’m so thrilled to be back!

After NY the next week I went to Houston to teach at Red Door; I find such great pleasure in teaching and sharing with our youth. I learned just as much from them as they learned from me! Since Houston, I’ve been back home in Dallas, TX. With heat like this (over 100 degress everyday!!!) I of course spent much of my summer in the pool 🙂 This summer I have really come to enjoy hot yoga; after doing it day after day I feel like I HAVE to have it! I have fallen in love with everything that I get out of it: strength both mentally and physically, flexibilty, balance, and a sense of sweating it out and being cleansed, leaving with peace, positivity, and serenity. I’ve also kept busy with working out at the gym, making sure I kept up with my cardio and doing some light weight training. From moving out of my apartment in Dallas, to saying my “Good-Byes” and “See you laters” to friends and family, and trying to stay physically active this summer, I am definitely ready and excited to leave this Texas heat, for one :p; and of course embark upon my new journey in the Big Apple with Ballet Hispanico!

Company Dancer Vanessa Valecillos: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Throughout the years, I have learned that it is very important to keep the body and mind very healthy while being off season.

I like to stay active physically. I took Ballet classes the first 2 weeks that I was off and on top of that I was going to a gym for cardio purposes and to use the steam room and sauna. I was trying to be done with all the activities by 1pm so that I could enjoy the company of my family.

I love to travel and this summer I was able to go with my boyfriend to a very isolated place in Nicaragua by the ocean front. It was very peaceful, but hard to get to even a gym. We went there for 5 days, so I decided to give myself a yoga class and some pilates mat exercises every day that I was there. I also went swimming for about a half hour each day. It is not the same as dancing, but it is definitely a good way to keep active and it is very easy on the joints and back.

It was very peaceful so I was able to read a lot which I find great for the mind.

After Nicaragua, we went to Caracas, Venezuela for 4 days. We went there to visit family and to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. This was a trip to visit family and old friends, so I didn’t do any physical activity at all. But I am ok with that. I feel like you have to appreciate family and those great moments of being able to be all together. To me, that brings great joy and keeps me motivated for the future.

Upon returning to the States, I started taking Ballet class again to get ready to go to New Orleans for 2 weeks. I had the pleasure of working with two of my friends and fellow dancers Rodney Hamilton and Nicholas Villeneuve for NOBA (New Orleans Ballet Association). We spent the 2 weeks teaching, creating works for the students and rehearsing for the final performance of the summer intensive. It was a great experience working with such an amazing staff and great students!

And the last 2 weeks of the time off I had, I spent on getting all my requirements for the beginner’s mat certification at Power Pilates. I am in the process of getting certified to become a Pilates instructor. I am also studying French and I am loving learning new things.

Even though I had a great summer, I am very excited to start my third season with Ballet Hispanico.

-Vanessa Valecillos


Company Dancer Donald Borror: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Since we ended the season in June, doing some amazing work with George Cespedes, it has been quite the eventful summer! The main event would certainly be teaching at the BH Summer Intensive here in New York for all of July. I taught men’s ballet technique, elementary modern, and three levels of improvisation… and though challenges came from different places then I expected to find them, I loved learning from my students and in turn helping them grow. Check out my blog post HERE to read about some remarkable work done by my advanced improv class.

In the evenings while I was teaching, I had the amazing opportunity to work at the Metropolitan Opera House, presenting flowers to principal dancers from ABT and the Mariinsky company onstage during the bows following each performance. After watching them perform from the wings, I congratulated these unbelievable artists in front of over 4,000 people every night for 3 weeks (and practically wore out my tuxedo ☺). I also stayed in shape by taking different open ballet classes, and doing a mix of Pilates and Gyrotonic instructed by fellow BH dancer Lauren Alzamora. In the midst of this, I managed to find some much needed breaks from the frenetic energy of New York and traveled with family to Cape Cod and the Caymen Islands, which was a real treat to have time with both my family and in such beautiful places.

Now, I am so excited to be back and busy in the studio… there’s nothing like being reenergized after a break to really help kick into high gear!

-Donald Borror

Follow me on Twitter! @donborror

Me holding a new turtle friend at the Cayman Island Turtle Farm

Company Dancer Christian Elán Ortiz: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This past summer was truly one I will never forget. After a wonderful first season with Ballet Hispanico, my body and mind were ready for some rest and relaxation. Early in the summer I traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii to visit my family, and the beauty of the island was breathtaking.  I felt fortunate to experience the pristine beaches, majestic mountains, and lush forests of Oahu.  Of course, sharing it with my loved ones was all the better.

After two weeks in paradise I returned home to New York City feeling reinvigorated (and tan)! Summer in the city is a wonderful time, and I enjoyed various concerts and artistic events.  I saw DJ Kingdom at Rockaway Beach, attended several outdoor dance performances, and waited in line 5 hours to see the stunning Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met. What is also great about summer in the city is the myriad of dance classes offered, and I took ballet class with several wonderful teachers.  In the end, I was ready and eager to begin my second season with BH!

-Christian Elán Ortiz

Christian rocking the paddleboard in Hawaii this summer!