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Robert Abrams
Galas
Special Focus
Cha-Cha
Latin
Salsa
The Plaza Hotel
Ballet Hispanico
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY
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The Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala

by Robert Abrams
March 30, 2015
The Plaza Hotel
768 5th Avenue
(Fifth Avenue at Central Park South)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 759-3000

Featured Dance Company:

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

Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala
More Photos
The Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala began with a reception filled with glittering elegance. The dresses, the atmosphere, the superb food. This is The Plaza, after all.

I talked to several parents of Ballet Hispanico (BH) students. They were all genuinely enthusiastic about the BH school. And by this I mean that not only were they enthusiastic, they were genuine. These are people who are passionate about dance in an unassuming way. Yes, glitter is good, but glitter can sometimes raise a barrier at the same time it raises up. I felt these were people I could talk to, people who have something to say and who take the time to listen. In a city like New York, where everyone is often in a hurry, this is no small thing. Based on this alone, if you are looking for a community as well as dance instruction, I would give Ballet Hispanico a look.

Ballet Hispanico is not just ballet. Instruction is offered in ballet, modern, ballroom, hip hop, salsa, jazz and flamenco. Students have the opportunity to develop well rounded skills and passion. The children of the parents I spoke to started at BH at 5 to 7 years old and continued studying through high school. There are recreational and pre-professional options.

After the reception, attendees had dinner with a show by BH professional dancers as well as BH student dancers. Two Inspiration awards were presented. The evening was capped by social dancing to a live band (Grupo Irék).

If you are looking for a dance company gala where attendees dance, you will want to attend the Ballet Hispanico gala. As I have previously remarked, for some reason dance company galas often have great potential for social dancing, but very little social dancing. The Ballet Hispanico gala had great potential, which the attendees eagerly took advantage of. Many had skills. Some were bopping, which is good too. There were BH professionals, newcomers and plenty in between. At least one of evening's honorees danced with enthusiasm too.

I danced twice.

My first dance, at the start of the social dance portion of the evening, was with a woman who was almost certainly a professional dancer. I happened to be walking by when she remarked to the ether, "I need someone to dance with" or words to that effect. I took a risk and asked her to dance and she accepted. We found a small corner of the high quality dance floor. The floor was rather packed. The music from the live band was Salsa. I kept my steps small and simple, both to find the sync with the rhythm and my partner, and to avoid bumping into people. A friend of mine used to say that you should be able to dance Brazilian Samba in a 14" by 14" square; this is good advice to keep in mind, especially in the early part of a dance gala where the floor is particularly crowded. And when the room includes a fair number of dancers of BH's caliber, you don't need to compete or show off, you just need to dance.

My second dance was at the end of the evening. (In between I admired the other dancers and took photos: see below.) When I asked a woman, who seemed to be at the gala by herself, to dance, she protested that she wasn't a good dancer. I told her that was okay. I kept it simple, and she seemed a little hesitant at first as newcomers often are (or it could have been the two of us needing a minute to find a synced connection), but after not very long I started to feel more confident and her following started to feel sure-footed, or maybe I was just lost in the magic of the evening, and I started to get a little fancier. It was a risk, but she followed perfectly, and if there was a stumble or two, I take responsibility for it.

I have two main points here.

First, connection matters more than matched skill levels. Connection can be somewhat unpredictable, so take a risk and ask someone to dance, even if you think they are at a different level than you. If you are in a welcoming space, you will likely succeed. The Ballet Hispanico gala was a most welcoming space. Plus, to improve in dance, both as an individual and as a dance community, people need to dance with others more, the same and less experienced than themselves. Ballet Hispanico seems like a welcoming place for this kind of risk and growth.

Second, if you go to the Ballet Hispanico gala and hope to find someone to dance with, there is a chance you will find a dance partner. To be safe, I would still recommend that you bring a partner. Ballet Hispanico should also maintain a list of people who want to be introduced to others who want to dance at the gala; it is quite possible, given the success of the event from a dance perspective, that they already do. Facilitated introductions would help attendees get maximum value from a gala, whether for dance or conversation. (To get eggheaded for a moment, it is difficult to tell from casual observation of an event what percentage of attendees come in groups and what percentage as singles. I suspect many of the attendees came in friendship or family groups. We would need to do a social network analysis. If we did, I suspect we could learn something about gala attendance that could help increase attendance at and increase satisfaction with the galas. Okay, enough talk about data and measurement – back to Salsa and the occasional Cha-cha.)

If you love Ballet Hispanico and feel you can afford gala ticket prices, the Ballet Hispanico gala is well worth attending. This year BH's fans raised more than $1.1 million at the gala. If you love social dancing in an enthusiastic environment (especially Latin dance), and you can afford the ticket, you should attend the Ballet Hispanico gala, even if you have never seen Ballet Hispanico perform. And then see Ballet Hispanico perform. Or take a Ballet Hispanico class.
Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Milena Alberti-Pérez and David Pérez, recipients of Ballet Hispanico's Civic Inspiration Award, inspire on the dance floor.

Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Milena Alberti-Pérez and David Pérez, recipients of Ballet Hispanico's Civic Inspiration Award, inspire on the dance floor.

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Sometimes you only need a part to represent the whole. (See synedoche and metonymy.) Here eyes represent the dancer, the partnership, the floor, the evening and the field of dance.

Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Sometimes you only need a part to represent the whole. (See synedoche and metonymy.) Here eyes represent the dancer, the partnership, the floor, the evening and the field of dance.

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Grupo Irék performs at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala.

Grupo Irék performs at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala.

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams


Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Dancing and smiles to the very end of the evening. This photo also shows the beautiful lighting design created for the social dancing: dim enough to create an elegant mood, but also bright enough to really see your partner. And don't forget the glitter. Glitter needs great lighting to sparkle. The evening sparkled all the way to the last note.

Social dancing at the Ballet Hispanico 2015 Spring Gala - Dancing and smiles to the very end of the evening. This photo also shows the beautiful lighting design created for the social dancing: dim enough to create an elegant mood, but also bright enough to really see your partner. And don't forget the glitter. Glitter needs great lighting to sparkle. The evening sparkled all the way to the last note.

Photo © & courtesy of Robert Abrams

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