White Bird Concludes Its 20th Anniversary Season With Ballet Hispanico
Ballet Hispánico returns to White Bird for one night only, on Wednesday, May 16 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall with an inspiring program featuring the works of three prominent Latina choreographers; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Michelle Manzanales, and Tania Péres-Salas. The New York-based company led by Artistic Director and CEO Eduardo Vilaro performs work with "bold technique that illuminates concerns of Latino/a identity and resiliency," (The Village Voice)
Tina Ramirez founded Ballet Hispánico in New York City in 1970 as a grass-roots dance and education organization which she envisioned as a world where arts and professional opportunities became possible for the Latino/a community. She sought to provide a voice for Latinos who had been either absent or stereotyped in American culture. Through her unstinting efforts, Ballet Hispánico has become a catalyst for change and diversity with tremendous impact that brings individuals and communities together to celebrate and explore Latino cultures through dance. The company is now a beacon of hope, tolerance, and artistic excellence.
Ballet Hispánico's program for White Bird will begin with Línea Recta (2016) choreographed by by Belgo-Colombian choreographer Annabella Lopez Ochoa. Línea Recta explores an intriguing aspect of flamenco: the conspicuous absence of physical contact between dancers. Ochoa's choreography is premised upon the theme of communication between the sexes and performed to an original guitar composition by Eric Vaarzon Morel.
The work maintains the integrity and hallmark passion of the flamenco genre while re-imagining an original and explosive movement language. Exploring "how a hybridization of traditional and contemporary steps allow for more physical contact between dancers than textbook flamenco would typically allow," Línea Recta "shows the versatility of the dancers as they move adeptly between balletic and flamenco dance steps." (The Village Voice).
The next work is Michelle Manzanales' Con Brazos Abiertos (2017). In her first work for Ballet Hispánico, this Mexican-American choreographer explores the humor and nostalgia in iconic Mexican symbols which she was reluctant to embrace as a child growing up in Texas. Intertwining folkloric details with a distinctly contemporary voice in dance, set to music that ranges from Julio Iglesias to rock en español, Con Brazos Abiertos is a humorous and frank look at a life caught between two cultures.
The final piece on the program, choreographed in 2002 by Tania Pérez-Salas, is 3. Catorce Dieciséis. As one of the leading voices of Mexican contemporary dance, Pérez-Salas draws inspiration from the number ? (Pi) to reflect on the circularity of our movement through life. With intense theatricality and imagery, set to music by Vivaldi and other Baroque composers, 3. Catorce Dieciséis "embraces the vocabulary of contemporary dance fully. Overall 3.Catorce Dieciséis is a transcendent and triumphant hymn to the glory of the human spirit." (Times Colonist, Victoria, BC).
Eduardo Vilaro (Artistic Director & CEO) joined Ballet Hispánico as Artistic Director in August 2009, becoming only the second person to head the company since it was founded in 1970. In 2015, Mr. Vilaro took on the additional role of Chief Executive Officer of Ballet Hispánico. He has been part of the Ballet Hispánico family since 1985 as a dancer and educator, after which he began a ten-year record of achievement as Founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. Mr. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico's legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America's changing cultural landscape. Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of six, he is a frequent speaker on the merits of cultural diversity and dance education.
Tina Ramirez (Founder) founded Ballet Hispánico in 1970 and served as Artistic Director until 2009. Under her direction, over forty-five choreographers created works for the Company, many of international stature and others in the early stages of their career. Ms. Ramirez was born in Venezuela, the daughter of a Mexican bullfighter and grandniece to a Puerto Rican educator. Her performing career included international touring with the Federico Rey Dance Company, the inaugural Festival of Two Worlds in Italy with John Butler, the Broadway productions of Kismet and Lute Song and the television adaptation of Man of La Mancha.
ANNABELLE LOPEZ OCHOA has been choreographing since 2003 following a twelve-year dance career in various contemporary dance companies throughout Europe. She has created works on fifty companies worldwide including Ballet Hispánico, Atlanta Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Compania Nacional de Danza, Dutch National Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, , New York City Ballet, among many others. San Francisco Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, to name a few.
MICHELLE MANZANALES is a choreographer and dance educator originally from Houston, TX. She began working with Eduardo Vilaro in 2003 as a dancer for his company Luna Negra Dance Theater of Chicago, where she later became Rehearsal Director in 2006 and served as Interim Artistic Director 2009-2010. In 2010, her homage to Frida Kahlo, Paloma Querida, was hailed as a "visual masterpiece" by Lucia Mauro of the Chicago Tribune and was described by the Sun-Times as a "gorgeously designed, richly hallucinatory, multi-faceted vision of the artist...".
TANIA PÉREZ-SALAS was born in Mexico City. She has won national and international recognition as both a dancer and choreographer, including the National and Continental Prizes for Choreography in Mexico and the sixth Paris International Dance Competition, among others. In 1994 Pérez-Salas founded the Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza, and her company has been invited to perform at some of the most important theaters and festivals in Mexico, the United States, including White Bird in 2006, Canada, South America, China, the Middle East, and Europe.
White Bird's 20th season (2017-18) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund; Work for Art; The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, PGE Foundation and Starseed Foundation.