We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Saturday, April 27, 2024


"House of Mad'moiselle" performed by Ballet Hispanico
(photo by Benjamin Rivera)

We are a Swan Lake/Giselle kind of balletomane; but we like to explore art forms that are new to us. Our attempts to broaden our horizons in the opera world have been disappointing, as have our attempts to appreciate modern ballet--until last night, when we attended a fine program by Ballet Hispanico at the New York City Center. Instead of the boring herky-jerky movements reminiscent of a health club exercise class which we deplored at our last excursion into the world of dance, we enjoyed a stimulating, colorful, and ultimately satisfying evening.

Although Ballet Hispanico has been around for over a half century, we have not seen them in the past 15 years since Cuban-born Eduardo Vilaro took over as Artistic Director. If we saw their performances before his reign, we cannot recall them. The company has become a major force on the New York cultural scene and has danced all over the world. 

Their mission is to foster the work of Latinx choreographers (very much in line with our mission of encouraging young Latinx opera singers) and to provide excellent training for dancers. If we take last night's performance as evidence, they have definitely achieved their goal. The dancers seem to be bursting with energy, alive with enthusiasm, and superbly disciplined, operating successfully as a unit. Artistic values were high with interesting usage of pendant lights lowered from above. Upstage scrims were given intense washes of color.

It was an interesting experience to watch abstract dances. We are reminded of abstract art which may mean something quite different to each viewer and also something different from what the painter had in mind. It is within our nature to create stories; when the curtain rose on Mr. Vilaro's "Buscando a Juan" the two male dancers, under swinging hanging lights, seemed to be a creator and a robot who was manipulated to achieve humanistic movement. But then the robot moved freely and was not only accepted by a group of dancers but elected to a leadership position. Was this even close to what the choreographer had in mind? We have no idea but we enjoyed our fantasy.

The sculptural movement of the dancers was effective in a manner that we have not seen since a long ago performance by Lars Lubovich. There was an organic flow to the movements that we found immensely satisfying.

However, it was the second piece on the program that delighted us the most.  It was wacky, weird, and wonderful. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's "House of Mad'moiselle" involved a very tall muscular "woman" in platform boots (Adam Dario Morales) portraying a superstar surrounded by adoring fans, all of whom wore bright fluorescent scarlet wigs and tucked matching fluffy scarves into their costumes (conceived by the choreographer) that looked like wagging tails as they moved.  And moved, they did! 

There was a moment when the "superstar" was alone on the stage and crouched down in a posture of despair and our thoughts meandered down the speculative path that so-called celebrities are all about "show" and inwardly are lonely sad people.

The third piece on the program was instantly forgettable.  "18 +1", choreographed by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, left no impression. Ghabriello Fernando's costumes were just drab. We wished that the program order had been different. "House of Mad'moiselle" would have sent us out the door dancing and smiling. Nonetheless, the evening was a worthwhile "walk on the wild side".

© meche kroop

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