City Pulse

By Yasmin Jorge

There’s heat and passion on stage. Ballet Hispanico, the leading Latino dance institution in the U.S., returns to The Joyce Theater for its New York Season until April 29th. The program pays tribute to the richness and range of the company’s Latino roots – and its versatile dancers – and features African and Caribbean influences. Works performed include a World Premiere, Espiritu Vivo, created by Brooklyn-based choreographer Ronald K. Brown and set to music by Afro-Peruvian Latin Grammy Award winner Susana Baca; the Joyce Premiere of Asuka, Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro’s first work for the company, an exuberant homage to salsa legend Celia Cruz; and the New York Premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Nube Blanco.

Espiritu Vivo, photo by Rosalie O’Connor

Details of these dynamic firsts:
- Espiritu Vivo explores the mix of the African and Latino diasporas in the Caribbean and in Latin America. Using the history, tradition, and dance forms from these regions, the work depicts the stages of grief and the promise of a new day.
- Asuka is a celebration of the music of Celia Cruz through Latino eyes. Cruz, renowned as the “Queen of Salsa,” captured the hearts of Latinos globally and became a symbol of perseverance for many. With lush imagery and humor, the struggles of departure from one’s homeland and the thrill of success experienced by a community are illustrated.
- Nube Blanco (White Cloud) is inspired by the choreographer’s childhood memories of the lovely songs of Maria Dolores Pradera. The Spanish zapateado technique, or footwork in flamenco dance, is given a modern twist and brilliantly integrates into the piece.

Asuka; Nube Blanco, photos by Rosalie O’Connor

The program also includes a revival and repertory favorites:
- Guajira, the women of the Cuban countryside, spend their days toiling in the sun beside the men, then enjoy rest and a bit of flirtation. By the evening, they forget about their hard work in a rousing guateque (party) with the other laborers.
- Mad’moiselle is a theatrical work that investigates iconic male/female images and gender role-playing in Latin American cultures.
- Locked Up Laura is a sensuous pointe duet that shows the artist’s battle to maintain authenticity over routine.
- Tito on Timbales is a tribute to the music of master percussionist Tito Puente. The ballet captures the joy and intricacies of social dance through cascading patterns, sensual partnering and festivity.

Ballet Hispanico is excellence and full-body energy. Gorgeous dancers maximize every move, from the nod of heads to the flex of feet, and capture the mood in most expressive faces. The audience is left breathless feeling the heat.

Ballet Hispanico performs through April 29th at The Joyce Theater.
175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street), NYC.
Tickets are available by phone at 212-242-0800 or online at http://www.Joyce.org.

Originally published April 2012
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