Ballet Hispanico: weak of purpose

When a new director takes over a company that seems to have exhausted its reason for being, of course you hope he will lead it in a brave and bold new direction. That seems to be Eduardo Vilaro’s plan, but he hasn’t sufficiently taken the measure of his dancers nor made it possible for his elected choreographers to, so the results were decidedly mixed on Tuesday, opening night of the Joyce season, as I lay out in my Financial Times review:


This New York troupe doesn’t really worry about the hispanico moniker. Founder Tina Ramirez, who retired last year after four decades as artistic director, required only that choreographers choose Latin music, which somehow led to Broadway razzle-dazzle as much as anything else. For his inaugural season, the 45-year-old Eduardo Vilaro – recently director of Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater – has commissioned work from Latino choreographers, then let them do what they will. The result is a brave mess.

Perhaps Ron De Jesus counted on the original score by Oscar Hernandez, Ruben Blades’ regular arranger, to lead the way only to find his species of Latin jazz too light. “Triptico” begins as a sombre, smooth romance, with couples swirling around each other in deconstructed ballroom moves, before veering off into a romp, with each woman using her man as ballast to sail through the air like a kid cannonballing into a lake. “Triptico” may not cohere, but it does showcase the dancers’ pleasing plushness and good cheer.

Ballet Hispanico Company Members Perform Triptico - Photo By Rosalie o'Connor.jpg

Jessica Batten slicing through the air with her rapier legs, supported by Waldemar QuiƱones-Villanueva and Nicholas Villenueve. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor for Ballet Hispanico.

Belgian-Colombian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa has no trouble nailing down her theme, which as far as New Yorkers have seen is always the same: dank and doomy relationships……

For the whole thing, click here.

Vilaro doesn’t seem to be
moving in this direction, but it would be neat if in the future the choreographers
were a musical bunch, besides being Latino.
Tina Ramirez required her choreographers to use Latin music, but not to know what to do with it. So much Latin music is dance music, which is fantastic until you bury its rhythms under a 4/4 beat. Then it’s excruciating. 

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