Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

Ballet Hispánico uplifts and celebrates Latine voices and artists. The Company takes the City Center stage June 1-3, 2023, with a program of incredible dance, beginning with an opening night performance and Gala paying tribute to the Miranda Family.

By: Jun. 02, 2023
Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

Ballet Hispánico’s opening gala performance at the acclaimed New York City Center is more than a presentation of four works; it is a celebration of music, dance, and Founder Tina Ramirez’s impactful legacy. The special night included a mix of works ranging from hard-hitting contemporary ballet to sensual, intoxicating Cuban dance fusion. Ballet Hispánico’s mission for inclusivity and diversity is driven by the continuation of Ramirez’s love for dance and an overarching dedication towards representation of Latine art and creation. “When I was in school, no dance history class included Latine artists,” says Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro. “This is how we make change. We make art.”


Opening the program is William Forsythe’s New Sleep (Duet) staged by Noah Gelber, featuring dancers Fatima Andere and Antonio Cangiano. The work originally premiered at the War Memorial Opera House in 1987 with San Francisco Ballet and is a classically “Forsythe” style work with hard-hitting lines, swift traveling, and undeniable magnetic connection. The beginning of New Sleep (Duet) feels like a blastoff as Thom Willem’s musical creation launches with one man’s voice: “Warning: three, two, one.” Clean and crisp, Andere and Cangiano whist onto the stage in black tights and simply cut costumes. The stage is bare, leaving no distraction other than to enjoy Forsythe’s forceful dance-making. The dancers repeatedly break and reform connection to Willem’s electronic soundboard with trenchant bass. Andere pushes her hamstrings to the limits with whacking extensions while Cangiano powerfully executes unique turning sequences, maintaining strength and reliance during intricate partnering moments. New Sleep (Duet) is an explosive, athletic marathon to remember.

Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

Alone onstage in lengthy red fabric stands Amanda del Valle, beginning an excerpt of Línea Recta choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, which premiered 2016 at the Apollo Theater. Facing upstage in a circle of light, guitar strums by musician Eric Vaarzon Morel as Valle’s back and shoulders express vulnerable femininity through wisping flamenco movements. Four male dancers surround her, and infectious energy rises. Valle dances with Omar Rivéra in a romantic, playful duet with the perfect balance of flirtatiousness and charisma. She plays between partners, floating over the stage as she’s lifted. All five dancers embrace Ochoa’s quick movements with flicks of energy and fire from their joints.

Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

When the curtain rises for Sor Juana choreographed by Mexican American choreographer Michelle Manzanales, the audience audibly gasps. Gabrielle Sprauve stands downstage in front of a pile of fallen dancers, each with their heads tilted on the floor. Amber fog creepily clouds downstage as fluttering, dim lights flash over the scene. Sprauve appears fearful and wide-eyed, eventually turning upstage to walk over the dancers. “…Manzales explores the life and legacy of the iconic 17th-century Mexican feminist, poet, scholar, and nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,” states the program. “Sor Juana’s life and integral voice in the feminist movement continue to inspire the world.” Jojo A. Franjoine’s lighting design emulates a mysterious world, with intriguing orange, white, and magenta tones. The dancers appear as Renaissance dolls in elegant, regal dresses and diamonds. Interchanging unison and breakouts showcase Manzanales’s unique style that is seamless, picturesque, and eerie. Sprauve performs multiple solos showcasing her beautiful technique mixed with dramaturg Kiri Avelar’s influence of unique gestures and shapes. Sor Juana deliberately showcases Manzanales’s talent as much as the dancer’s superb movement quality, and is whole-heartedly an evening showstopper.

Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

Ending the gala program is an atmospheric dance celebration titled Club Havana created by Pedro Ruiz which was originally performed at The Joyce Theater in 2000. Danced by the entire company, every artist brings their uniqueness to the stage with attitude, sensuality, and Cuban flare. Filled with cigar puffing, flicks of disco ball lights, and rhythm, Club Havana emulates the true ambience of a night out dancing. Expressive and moody yet playfully romantic, couples flirt, fight, and drag each other across the stage. After a slower adagio sequence of lifting, the indigo disco-lit stage turns flashing red. All dancers are outlined silhouette shapes until horns start playing a quickening tempo. Hips, salsa, and spinning, the entire company celebrates the love of dance. As bursts of confetti float down the stage to music and cheering. Club Havana is the type of piece which tempts the audience to get up on their feet and start dancing.

Review: BALLET HISPÁNICO at New York City Center

“The works in this program are a continuation of my vision to give place and voice to Latine choreographers,” states Vilaro in the program. As the nation’s largest Latine cultural organization, Ballet Hispánico is a source of joy and hope to multiple peoples, including performing arts, Latine, and LGBTQA+ communities, to name a few. Vilaro leads the company with an unapologetic dedication towards inclusion and representation, which is felt among the strength and artistry every dancer brings to the stage.


For more information and tickets, visit: Click Here


Artistic Director & CEO: Eduardo Vilaro

Founder: Tina Ramirez

Artistic Associate & Rehearsal Director: Johan Rivera

The Company: Fatima Andere, Leonardo Brito, Amir Baldwin, Antonio Cangiano, Ana Estrada, Amanda del Valle, Paulo Hernandez-Farella, Cori Lewis, Dylan Dias McIntyre, Hugo Pizano Orozco, Omar Rivéra, Isabel Robles, Gabrielle Sprauve, Isabella Vergara

Photo Credit: Erin Baiano


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