Ballet Hispanico

Ballet Hispánico: Dance for the people

Eduardo Vilaro and Ballet Hispánico embrace the unconventional as we'll have a chance to see at White Bird on Wednesday

The first thing to know about Ballet Hispánico? “Don’t get hung up on the name,” says artistic director Eduardo Vilaro. When you hear Ballet Hispánico, he suggests, “you think of a ballet company or a folkloric company. It’s neither. It’s as diverse in style as people are diverse.”

Case in point: the program the New York-based company is bringing to Portland through White Bird offers three different boundary-pushing works by choreographers whose influences stretch from Colombia to Mexico to Spain.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s flamenco-inspired Línea Recta (Straight Line) will be part of Ballet Hispanico’s program on Wednesday/Photo by Paula Lobo

Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Línea Recta (Straight Line) approaches flamenco, which she studied as a child, from a contemporary dance perspective, bringing the dancers in closer physical contact than is common for the genre, and creating lines that intersect, bend and swirl. Mexican-American choreographer Michelle Manzanales sets what Vilaro calls her “identity struggle”—feeling too Mexican in some circles, too American in others—to Julio Iglesias and rock-en-español in her sometimes comic contemporary piece Con Brazos Abiertos (With Open Arms), which incorporates the Mexican symbols she distanced herself from during her Texas childhood. Mexican contemporary choreographer Tania Pérez-Salas rounds out the evening with her athletic 3. Catorce Dieciséis (3. Fourteen, Sixteen), inspired by the circular characteristics of the mathematical formula Pi.

The rich panoply of Latin culture is evident not just in the work that Ballet Hispánico stages, but in its very existence. In 1970, founder Tina Ramirez, a Venezuelan native and the daughter of a Mexican bullfighter, created the company “to give voice to Latinos. We were voiceless in the arts” in the U.S. says Vilaro. As a Cuban native who immigrated with his family to New York when he was a youngster, Vilaro is dedicated to furthering Ramirez’s mission of education and representation, “showing what diversity can mean, and starting a dialogue,” he says. “Once you have a voice, what do you say?”

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DanceWatch Weekly: The sun is out, let’s dance

The week in dance includes BodyVox, Ballet Hispanico, Imago, OBT2, PDX Contemporary Ballet and Rainbow Dance Theatre

The sun, the sun, I’m in love with the sun. Its warmth, its brightness and the immediate joy it brings me and hopefully you, too. Don’t you think everything looks different when the sun comes out?

I’ve forgotten about my body under the layers and layers of thick dark fabrics these winter months and especially my skin. I forgot that my skin senses too, and when it’s covered up for so long, I feel like I am suffocating. I want to focus on this tending to the body and its senses this week. Awakening our senses to more fully take in the experience of watching dance is where we’re at.

So, in addition to seeing all of the wonderful dance on my itinerary below, I’m going to move my body, too. Go for a walk, run, cycle, swim, or take one of Heather Wisner’s recommended dance classes from her National Dance Week diary. Get moving. But rest too and feed myself—I’m thinking delicious food, wine, and sweet sweets—and then go see dance. It will be that much better.

Performances this week

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Rainbow Dance Theatre. Photo courtesy of Rainbow Dance Theatre.

Western Oregon University Spring Dance Concert
Featuring work by Rainbow Dance Theatre, faculty members Amy McDonnell, Cynthia Garner and Darryl Thomas and students Alaina Meyers, Andrew De La Paz, Caitlin Rose, Tunya Dhevahpalin and alumnus Kristie Martinez
May 10-12
Western Oregon University, Rice Auditorium 101, 345 Monmouth Ave., Monmouth

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a new work by Rainbow Dance Theatre’s artistic directors Valerie Bergman and Darryl Thomas, explores the 16th century triptych painting of the same name by Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. The work, reveals the unexpected through a close examination of the three-panel painting that depicts the Bosch’s version of the Garden of Eden, hedonistic abandon, and Judgment Day.

“Our dance explores questions such as whether we’ve forever lost the state of grace depicted by the Garden of Eden,” explained Bergman in the press release. “Can we balance an attraction to the bizarre with a grounded life? Will we stand by silently as our world descends into a kind of hell, rather than spend our days actively reaching for peace?”

The Garden of Earthly Delights is one of many works being presented by faculty, students, and alumni as part of Western Oregon University’s annual Spring Dance Concert.

BodyVox dancer Jillian St. Germain in Rain & Roses. Photo courtesy of BodyVox.

Rain & Roses (world premiere)
BodyVox
May 10-19
The North Warehouse, 723 North Tillamook Street, Portland OR 97227
Set in an expansive and atmospheric North Portland Warehouse, BodyVox artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, along with choreographers and company members Alicia Cutaia, Jeff George, and Daniel Kirk celebrate the end of their 20th season with Rain & Roses; a collage of dance and live music that explores the evolution of human character.

Dance writer Elizabeth Whelan previewed Rain & Roses for Oregon ArtsWatch and gives five reasons why you might want to see the show here.

PDX Contemporary dancer Sari Hoke. Photo by Stephen Jennings.

Compose
PDX Contemporary Ballet and Northwest Piano Trio
May 11-13
New Expressive Works (N.E.W.), 810 SE Belmont
PDX Contemporary Ballet (PDXCB) under the director of choreographer Briley Neugebauer will present two ballets in collaboration with Northwest Piano Trio.

The first is Lara, a newly commissioned score by grammy-nominated musician, singer, and composer Clarice Assad with choreography by Neugebauer inspired by the legend of a great Amazonian warrior known known as Mãe das Águas (“Mother of the Waters”). Her brothers, jealous that she was a better warrior than they, tried to kill her, but she kills them instead. Her father, unaware that she acted in self-defense, tries to kill her as well and throws her into the river where she is transformed into a half-human, half-fish, instead of dying. Neugebauer’s choreography for Lara reflects the mood of the music and touches on the duality and symbolism of Lara’s fate.

The second dance, Swing Shift, is an up-beat, Balanchine-inspired work by Neugebauer, to the musical composition Swing Shift by Portland’s Kenji Bunch. The dance and music are inspired by the New York City nightlife and begins as the workers anticipate 5 o’clock.

The program also includes Frolic, a composition by Oregon composer Zach Gulaboff, to be performed solely by Northwest Piano Trio.

Ballet Fantastique’s Alice in Wonderland. Photo courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

 

Alice in Wonderland (World Premiere)
Ballet Fantastique and High Step Society
May 11-13
Hult Center, Soreng Theater, 1 Eugene Center, Eugene
With brand new choreography by Donna and Hannah Bontrager and live electro-swing music by High Step Society, Ballet Fantastique takes us on Alice’s journey through wonderland crossing genres and and expectations with a steampunk twist.

To Fly Again by Imago’s Jerry Mouawad.

To Fly Again
Imago, Jerry Mouawad
May 11-12
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8TH AVE (At East Burnside)
ArtsWatch’s Bob Hicks reviewed To Fly Again and says that “Mouawad’s own description, from the show’s press release, perhaps explains the simple mystery of the thing as well as it can be explained: “A zany group of clown musicians and a clan of clay-tossed dancers roam a barren land … The clowns’ thoughts arise and pass like clouds, the dating game appears out of nowhere in clashes of absurdity, while joy and pathos skim their nonsensical wordplay as the clowns search for a suitable place to make camp. Psychedelic and existential humor pervades; the clowns are constantly interrupted by a clan of dusty dancers who live in a world beyond speech. Tater, the most vulnerable of the clowns, yearns to fly again. Questions open up to further questioning, and talk of sadness is eclipsed by looking at the stars.”

California Flamenco dance Erika Lopez performing as part of Feria de Portland 2018.

Feria de Portland 2018
Hosted by Espacio Flamenco Portland
5 pm May 12
AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison Street
From 5 pm to midnight, on Saturday, at the AudioCinema under the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge, under the warm glow of string lights and fragrant flowers, you can experience the pulse and heat of flamenco music and dance, and the flavors of Spanish food.

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