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Ballet Hispanico – Tito on Timbales, Destino Incierto, Stages

by Amber Henrie
October 9, 2008
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

Featured Dance Company:

Ballet Hispanico
Ballet Hispanico (office)
167 West 89th Street
New York, NY 10024
212-362-6710
www.ballethispanico.org

The performance given by Ballet Hispanico during their 2008 New York season at the Joyce Theater is a finale of which artistic director Tina Ramirez should most definitely be proud. Leaving the company after 40 years, she has created a company with unique style and grace, highlighting dancers whose strengths and skills are also in the same bucket.

While over all the complete evening was enjoyable, the first dance number of the evening was forgettable. Changed from the original program to begin with Tito on Timbales - choreographed by William Whitener, and the Latin Rhythm Percussion Ensemble playing the music of Tito Puente, the number did not live up to the same standard as previous performances I'd seen of the company. The last section of this movement left a bad taste as the band's repetitive "jam session" filled what felt like many long, irritating minutes of music and dancing. The dancers didn't have anything to work with – no phrasing, musicality or reach, but rather seemed mechanical in their movements.

That bad taste was quickly sweetened with the world premiere of Destino Incierto. Choreography by Carlos Sierra-Lopez, this ballet was stunning. Staged for three dancers (portraying Carmen, Don Jose and Escamillo of the opera Carmen) and danced beautifully by Angelica Burgos, Rodney Hamilton and Eric Rivera. The captivating performance, in both movement and expression, was accompanied by the inventive energy of Rodion Shchedrin's balletic adaptation of Georges Bizet's opera. All of the pieces of this love triangle came together equally in an exquisite ballet – a story well acted by playful interaction and continuous, flowing movement; pas de deux's between Burgos and both male interests were passionate, strong, technical, dynamic and seamless; and the relationship between all three dancers portrayed a unique respect and understanding of one another.

The final number, Stages, brought back this season as a tribute to Ramirez, was just that – a glowing tribute to every little girl's dream of being a ballerina, becoming one, continuing on to teach and direct a company, and leaving a final legacy. If you've ever dreamed or lived any part of this sequence, Stages will win a little place in your heart. During two of the movements (Rehearsal and Directions), Graciela Daniele an award-winning Broadway choreographer, shows her awe inspiring ability to depict movement and tell a complete story through dance. Each dancer pulled the audience into their journey as they transition from following the teacher's movement to dancing the choreography – in and out of lifts – all completely fluid with no stops or positions. The manner in which Daniele choreographed these transitions is impossible to describe in a review but worthy of seeing on stage. Ballet Hispanico dancer Alexandra Gonzalez really steals the stage during the ballet - her lines and technique are impeccable. She dances with passion, grace, and pushes each movement to the limit.

Ballet Hispanico can be seen at The Joyce Theater until October 19, 2008.
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