Ballet Hispanico delivers fresh flair at Vilar Performing Arts Center
Special to the Daily
The bright red, ruffled, long train of a flamenco dancer mesmerized four men as she passionately wove in and out of their reach, using her long train as if it were an exclamation mark, punctuating her power.
This opening number set the tone for Ballet Hispanico’s unique portrayal of relationships and what it means to be Latino in this day and age. With strength and grace, the company broke stereotypes and gave voice to Hispanic experiences. The vision of developing social unity while maintaining cultural identity drives director Eduardo Vilaro to further social awareness, through creative flair.
Traditional Hispanic styles blended with traditional ballet and modern dance in this company, which originated 50 years ago.
Dances infused with dramatic sensuality, undulating group formations and even humor guided audiences through the performance’s many moods and sensations. Men and women paired and dismantled, young women and men competed for the opposite sex sized each other up and group celebrations ensued. One dance explored iconic Mexican symbols, complete with sombreros that obscure dancers’ individual faces: Through this, choreographer Michelle Manzanales explored, with both humor and nostalgia, the cultural symbols she resisted as a Mexican-American child growing up in Texas.
Ballet Hispanico’s range of technique, voice and character shined through the variety of its musical selections, from folkloric and flamenco to traditional ballet and rock to spoken poetry — and even the voices of Cheech and Chong.
Fantastic costumes completed the sensual journey that is Ballet Hispanico. They ran the gamut, from ornate flamenco dresses and barebones undergarments to silhouetted Spanish fans and enormous white flowing “skirts,” from which, both men and women swirl, fly high, disappear and reappear.
Between the variety of music, costume, dance style and theme, Ballet Hispanico rendered a sonically, visually and emotionally satisfying show. Its only downside came in moments when dancers didn’t quite synchronize their movements; Ballet Hispanico would reach perfection if its company insisted upon precision in every muscle, every body.
If you missed Ballet Hispanico’s performance at the Vilar Center on March 16, you can catch them this summer. They have been aptly chosen to perform at Vail International’s Dance Festival’s Closing Night Celebration on Aug. 10. Given that the closing nights traditonally spur audiences to flood the stage for a community dance, Ballet Hispanico’s rousing energy is an excellent choice to fuel the celebratory, convergent event.