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Ballet Hispanico's "En Familia Program"

by Robert Abrams
April 18, 2015
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

My six and a half year old daughter and I attended the Ballet Hispanico "En Familia Program" at the Joyce. The performance began at 2 pm on a Saturday and lasted a little over an hour. The show took dance for kids seriously. Other than the shorter than usual running time, this was a "real" dance performance that any dance obsessed adult would also like. While I have no problem with performances specially designed for kids, I have long contended that kids can appreciate and enjoy regular dance performances (with the provisos that a reasonable curtain time and a willingness to leave at intermission are helpful), and this BH program provided more evidence to support this view.

Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro led a guided tour of dance and how dance is created. Excerpts from Asuka, Carmen.Maquia, Sombrerísimo and El Beso were presented. I enjoyed the performances and sharing the performances with my daughter, but what is important here is whether kids will enjoy the show. So, after the show, I asked my daughter what she thought of the show.

My daughter said she liked the dancing, such as when the dancers were fighting on stage (but they were pretending to hit each other). She liked the boys' dancing when they threw their hats up in the air [Sombrerísimo]. She liked when it was mixed boys and girls. She liked that we got to stand up and do a little bit of dancing [Cha-Cha, as part of one of Mr. Vilaro's short talks between numbers – {I liked that part a lot as well, and think they should add this to BH's adult shows too}]. She also liked that we got to ask questions [of the dancers at the end of the show – {She asked the dancers how old they were, which got a big laugh from everyone. Other kids also asked important questions such as where the dancers were from, when they started dancing and what their favorite foods were.}].

I asked my daughter if she would like to learn the dances the dancers were doing, such as when a girl and a boy were dancing together. She said Yes.

I asked my daughter, "Would you tell your friends to purchase a ticket and see the show?" She said Yeah.

So there you have it: Ballet Hispanico's "En Familia Program" is a show from the heart, that gets people clapping and dancing to a variety of Latin and Latin-inspired dance styles (but you don't have to be Hispanic to enjoy Ballet Hispanico, especially if you regard dance as your culture). BH's "En Familia Program" has the six and a half year old stamp of approval, so the next time a program like this is presented, round up some kids, buy tickets and inspire your kids to dance.

At the end of the mini Cha-Cha lesson, Mr. Vilaro said "I dare you to take that home and dance." I fully support Mr. Vilaro's directive, but there is a problem: there is no place to take young kids dancing in New York City, that I know of (and I have looked). Nearly everything in dance, both social and concert dance, starts late at night, and often in venues that are very much not conducive to having kids there. There used to be venues where kids could learn dance in a natural, inter-generational setting (see Polka). Latin culture has traditionally included parties like these as well. My feeling is that there is a hole in the market for social dance parties that start at Noon or 2 pm or so on a Saturday or Sunday, and which are designed so that both kids and adults can enjoy dancing and being around dance. I feel that Ballet Hispanico is well situated, perhaps with partners, to fill this hole. I dare Ballet Hispanico and Mr. Vilaro to create an inter-generational dance party that will help grow the dance community.

Ballet Hispanico already makes people want to dance. If BH gives audience members a chance to dance, my guess is that those audience members will come back and buy more tickets, and dance lessons, than they would have otherwise.
Ballet Hispanico in El Beso

Ballet Hispanico in El Beso

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispanico in El Beso

Ballet Hispanico in El Beso

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispanico in 'Carmen.Maquia.'

Ballet Hispanico in "Carmen.Maquia."

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispanico in 'Carmen.Maquia.'

Ballet Hispanico in "Carmen.Maquia."

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispanico in 'Asuka.'

Ballet Hispanico in "Asuka."

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispanico in 'Sombrerísimo.'

Ballet Hispanico in "Sombrerísimo."

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo

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