ballet hispanico

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Dedicated to exploring, preserving, and celebrating Latino cultures through dance, Ballet Hispanico is recognized around the world as one of the foremost dance interpreters of Hispanic culture. Featured works from the company’s current repertory provide a spirited introduction to Latin American and Caribbean dance forms and music.


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    Performances for Young Audiences is made possible by

    Based in New York City, Ballet Hispanico was founded in 1970 by Tina Ramirez to celebrate and preserve Latino culture through dance. Since 2009, Ballet Hispanico has been under the direction of Eduardo Vilaro, who choreographed two of the works you will see today. Three additional works performed at this performance demonstration were commissioned specifically for the company.


    HispanicoEduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director

  • Five Different Dances: One Company A ll five of the works celebrate Latin culture and identity through a fusion of Latin and contemporary dance.

    MadmoiselleChoreography by Annabelle Lopez OchoaMusic by Bart Rijnink

    In Madmoiselle, choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa examines associations people have with the Spanish name Maria, or Mary. The work references the many Marias and notions of femininity in Latin America which is what made it interesting to Lopez Ochoa when she created the dance. The title also gives us a clue to Lopez Ochoas intentions. Watch and listen for:

    Lopez Ochoa writes that Madmoiselle starts in hell and ends in heaven. See if you agree.

    a character that changes as the piece progresses and goes mad or crazy.

    the sense that multiple Marias could be any woman, represented by other dancers wearing red wigs.

    the different music selections that connect to the name Maria and the shouting of the name.

    Jessica Alejandra Wyatt in Asuka Eduardo Patino, NYC


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    In Asuka, the dancer portrays Cruz whose musical contributions spanned more than 50 years.

    AsukaChoreography by Eduardo VilaroMusic by Celia Cruz

    The title Asuka (pronounced ah-SOO-kah) sounds like the Spanish word azucar, which means sugar. The word became known for Cuban singer Celia Cruzs trademark expression of joy, Azcar! This dance celebrates Cruzs life from her modest beginnings through her rise as the Queen of Salsa music. Her recordings helped nurse the homesickness of many Latino immigrants, who like her, left their native countries. Watch for:

    the dancer portraying Cruz

    the duet and connection between the two dancers

    the ending with a triumphant Cruz in a sparkly dress.

  • Five Different Dances: One Company Jard TancatChoreography by Nacho DuatoMusic by Maria del Mar Bonet

    The desperation for rain for their barren crops is reflected in this dance set in Spain after the almost-40-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The couples in this piece work to recover after decades of repression, just as they labor to plant seeds in the parched earth. Watch how:

    the dancers show their backs to us, as if we are looking in the same direction, sharing in their circumstances.

    the choreographer uses gestures, like the rubbing of arms over the body and glances upward to show the desire for rain.

    movements indicate planting, with arms plunging toward the earth.

    the choreographer communicates hope in the face of difficulty, by showing tenderness in the duets.

    SombrersimoChoreography: Annabelle Lopez OchoaMusic by Banda Ionica Feat, Macaco el Mono Loco, Titi Robin Soundscape by various artists

    An absorbing exploration of individuality, Annabelle Lopez Ochoas work is an athletic tour de force for six men full of rhythmic agility and stylistic flair. The title for this dance comes from two Spanish words: sombrero (hat) and muchsimo (many). The fanciful combination of these two words is many hats. Watch and listen for:

    the connection between hats and identity. Hats can be worn for fashion, or can be associated with the nationality or cultural identity of a person.

    the moment when all the hats are put on one dancers head. Does this seem like a burden or expectation placed upon him?

    how the music alters from energetic to slow and how the dancers movements change with the music.

    The lyrics from music for this dance translate as: Water, we asked for water/And you, Oh Lord, you gave us wind/And you turn your back to us/As though you will not listen to us.


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    Three of the six male dancers who wear derby hats in Sombrersimo.

    Paula Lobo

  • David M. RubensteinChairman

    Michael M. KaiserPresident

    Darrell M. AyersVice President, Education

    The presentation of Ballet Hispanico was made possible by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project.Major support for NDP is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Additional support for Performances for Young Audiences is provided by Adobe Foundation, The Clark Charitable Foundation; Mr. James V. Kimsey; The Macys Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Park Foundation, Inc.; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; an endowment from the Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation; U.S. Department of Education; Washington Gas; and by generous contributors to the Abe Fortas Memorial Fund and by a major gift to the fund from the late Carolyn E. Agger, widow of Abe Fortas.

    Major support for educational programs at the Kennedy Center is provided by David and Alice Rubenstein through the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.

    Education and related artistic programs are made possible through the generosity of the National Committee for the Performing Arts and the Presidents Advisory Committee on the Arts.

    Cuesheets are produced by ARTSEDGE, an education program of the Kennedy Center.

    Learn more about education at the Kennedy Center at

    The contents of this Cuesheet have been developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education. You should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

    2013 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

    DanznChoreography by Eduardo VilaroMusic by The Paquito DRivera Ensemble

    In 1879, a new style of popular dance combined European couple dancing with African rhythms and hip movements. It was called the Danzn, and despite its early scandalous reputation it became the official dance of Cuba. Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro has taken this traditional Cuban dance form and reinvented it with contemporary movement riffs. The work plays on the fusion of jazz improvisation and Cuban rhythms which propel the dancers into a joyous celebration of music and movement. Watch for:

    a solo male dancer and his movement conversation with clarinet music.

    how the slower pace of this Cuban dance allows for closer partnering and embracing.

    Cover photograph: Jamal Rashann Callender in Sombrersimo Paula Lobo

    Where is Latin America? Latin America refers to countries where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken including Mexico and most of Central and South America, plus the Caribbean islands of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. These areas were once part of the Spanish and Portuguese empires back in Christopher Columbuss day.


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    Danzn combines elements of folk dance and ballet.