Ballet Hispánico: Embracing Female Choreographers
Posted on 07/01/2018
Founded in 1970, Ballet Hispánico combines Latino culture with contemporary dance for one riveting performance. Now celebrating over 45 years of work, they are known for the impact they have made on the artistic, social, and cultural life of the United States. Ballet Hispánico, led by award-winning Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, will be dancing their way to State Theatre New Jersey on October 11.
Ballet Hispánico is known for their contemporary repertoire and their celebration of culture. Through their professional company, school of dance, and community arts education program, they are able to create cultural dialogue through dance. In this show, there are three different pieces, which are all created by female choreographers. All three come from very diverse backgrounds and have brought great pieces to the stage that encourages diversity and individuality.
Línea Recta, the first piece, an intriguing aspect of flamenco: the conspicuous absence of physical contact between dancers. While maintaining the integrity and hallmark passion of the genre, Belgo-Colombian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa imagines an original and explosive movement language premised upon the theme of communication between the sexes and performed to an original guitar composition by Eric Vaarzon Morel.
Michelle Manzanales (pictured above) is a choreographer and dance educator originally from Houston, Texas who has created works for numerous professional companies, universities, and schools. Her piece, Con Brazos Abiertos, is the first piece she has choreographed for Ballet Hispánico. In this piece, she explores her Mexican culture that she was reluctant to embrace at an early age. Much of her inspiration for this piece came from watching documentaries, discovering music, and watching comedians like Gabriel Iglesisas and Cheech Marin to see how they expressed their Latinidad culture through their work. Listen to our interview with Michelle here.
Lastly, 3.Catorce Dieciséis, is choreographed by Tania Pérez-Salas. Pérez-Salas is one of Mexico’s best contemporary choreographers and has her own dance company, Tania Pérez-Salas Compania de Danza. Her piece, 3.Catorce Dieciséis, is based around the number 3.1416, or Pi, the never ending number. With this, the piece focuses on the circularity of our movement through life. Filled with emotions, 3.Catorce Dieciséis is a very theatrical piece and focuses on the eternity of life and evolution
When it comes to choosing choreographers, Artistic Director Eduardo Vilarostated in a recent All Access interview that he looks for someone who truly utilizes the dancers the company has and also “knows how to speak their truth about their vision of what Latino culture means to them.” He feels a choreographer “should be creating art that extends beyond the proscenium” and really make viewers amazed by their work. The pieces that Manzanalaes, Ochoa, and Pérez-Salas have created showcase these attributes that Vilaro wants Ballet Hispánico to strive for.
Watch all three different pieces take the stage for a night of culture, emotion, and dancing in Ballet Hispánico at State Theatre New Jersey on October 11, 2018 at 8pm!
By Carly Van Houten
Photo (c) Alona Cohen Photography