Ballet Hispanico Sizzles At The Iconic Apollo Theater

  • Lauren deLisa Coleman
  • Lifestyle
Ballet Hispánico warmed a chilly night in Manhattan recently with a truly breathtaking performance that was not only exquisite in execution and deeply inspiring but equally incredibly impactful as part of a larger cultural narrative in our culture today.  Indeed, the nation's premier Latino dance organization, returned to the Apollo stage in Harlem with a program that continues its commitment to staging works by female, Latinx choreographers. 
The Power Of The Latina Voice offered a strong focus on female choreographers and did not disappoint. As a direct manifestation of the mission begun by the Ballet's found Tina Ramirez, the stories told through dance were presented with energy, passion, power, and great beauty. 
In the World Premiere of Tiburones, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa addressed the discrimination and stereotypes placed upon Latinx culture and the power the media has in portraying these themes by diminishing the voices of Latinx artists. Ochoa deconstructed gender roles and identity to revitalize an authentic perspective of Puerto Rican icons appropriated within the entertainment industry.
In this restaging of Nací (2009), choreographer Andrea Miller draws from the duality of her Spanish and Jewish-American background and employs her distinctive movement style to investigate the Sephardic culture of Spain, with its Moorish influence and profound sense of community, despite hardship. The company truly shines here with its keen exhibition of versatility only complimented by the costume design with features billows and billows of white fabric.
Con Brazos Abiertos (2017) is a fun and frank look at life caught between two cultures. Michelle Manzanales utilizes iconic Mexican symbols that she was reluctant to embrace as a Mexican-American child growing up in Texas, to speak to the immigrant experience. Via a compelling combination of pre-recorded vocal narrative, music and dance,  the work brings life to a Latino dilemma with both humor and sobriety.
Artistic Director & CEO Eduardo Vilaro notes that this work is about telling the stories of a demographic that is, of course, multi-layered yet all too often seen as monolithic. Yet this work is far from drills about culture and acceptance or lack of it. Truly this performance speaks to a unity of human emotion, as well, to which we can all identify. Somehow a range of offering is easily accessible on this stage from love to isolation, humor to pathos.  Of particular note is the final piece where shoes used as statements, props and more truly delight the audience.
In addition, the dancers ooze the training and vigor that only few are blessed to possess as mere mortals watch them beautifully contort, leap and glide across the stage. 
Finally, the setting is certainly that which only enhanced the evening's work.  "Our collaboration with Ballet Hispánico not only speaks to the importance of presenting such vital works in Harlem, but also speaks to the Apollo's mission of continuing to create a 21st century performing arts canon. We want to not only commission and present a myriad of new multidisciplinary works, but also continue being a home for cultural innovators such as Ballet Hispánico," said Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater Executive Producer in a released statement.  
Ballet Hispánico, which continues to break ground,  is sponsored by GOYA, which has sponsored the company since 1977. Be sure to input Ballet Hispanico's new performance dates in your 2020 Google calendar already. In honor of the company's 50th anniversary, the company will be featured during a two-week run from April 7-19, 2020 at the Joyce Theater. For further information, please visit:

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