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IN `ANDALUZ,’ BALLET SHOWS EXOTIC, SAVVY SIDES: NYC DANCE

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on October 30, 2006.

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) — A dozen Ballet Hispanico dancers, rehearsing in their studio for their new season at the Joyce, tomorrow through Nov. 12, disguise bodies trained for svelteness and power in the motley rags common to the practice room. Hair is left any which way. Makeup is minimal to absent. Faces turn into blank masks as the dancers concentrate on balance, stretch, speed and seamless lyricism.

But a striking, fanciful series of color portraits by photographer Richard Corman, shot for Ballet Hispanico’s season brochure, portrays these same dancers as sensuous and exotic — like wild dreams of their everyday selves.

They become strange, beautiful people in costumes evoking religious rites, seduction and mysterious transformations. Bizarre, alluring makeup glamorizes their faces. They sport audacious hairdos straight out of the fashion glossies. Their gaze meets yours with attitude.

The Spanish choreographer Ramon Oller’s new “Corazon Al- Andaluz” (Heart of Andalusia), featured in the engagement, promises to reveal both aspects of these performers. It uses them as the able technicians they are, trained in classical ballet, modern dance and Hispanic idioms, as well as purveyors of irresistible fantasy.

The dance was inspired by Washington Irving’s “Tales of the Alhambra” and hopes, according to the company, to capture the book’s “intrigue, romance, and grandeur.”

This looks likely. Tina Ramirez, founder and leader of the 36-year-old troupe, explains that a key quality she looks for in selecting her performers is “dramatic intensity.”

Ballet Hispanico is at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave., at 19th Street, Oct. 31 through Nov. 12. Information: +1-212-242-0800 or http://www.joyce.org. To request the free brochure: +1-212-362-6710 or coliveras@ballethispanico.org.

© 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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