Home & + | Search
Featured Categories: Special Focus | Performance Reviews | Previews | DanceSpots | Arts and Education | Press Releases
Join ExploreDance.com's email list | Mission Statement | Copyright notice | The Store | Calendar | User survey | Advertise
Click here to take the ExploreDance.com user survey.
Your anonymous feedback will help us continue to bring you coverage of more dance.
SPOTLIGHT:
PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
ExploreDance.com Kickstarter Campaign

The ExploreDance.com Kickstarter campaign is live! Please consider backing our campaign to help us expand our coverage of dance.
www.kickstarter.com/projects/1306220552/exploredancecom
ExploreDance.com (Magazine)
Web
Other Search Options
Bonnie Rosenstock
Dance Events
Dance New York
Music and Dance Reviews
Performance Programs
Performance Reviews
Ballet
Dance-theater
Latin
Modern/Contemporary
The Joyce Theater
USA
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ** **
exploredance.com

Ballet Hispánico’s Two Premieres Explore Issues of Displacement and Home

by Bonnie Rosenstock
April 4, 2019
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800
Ballet Hispánico delivered two world premieres March 30 at The Joyce Theater, both on the themes of migration, immigration, assimilation and inclusion/exclusion, chronicled in very different ways. “El Viaje,” choreographed by Taiwanese-born Edwaard Liang, was quiet and contemplative. “Homeward Bound/Alaala” by Filipino-American choreographer Bennyroyce Royon was prop oriented, busy and more choreographically complex. Sandwiched between the two works to chew on was “Sombrerísimo” (2013) by Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, a Ballet Hispánico crowd-pleaser and the most delicious morsel of the evening.

According to Liang, “El Viaje” focuses on the journey of mass Chinese emigration from the 19th century to 1949 and the Chinese-Cuban diaspora to explore identity and the ghost of a former life, which wouldn’t have been clear or relevant without this explanation. The work featured the marvelous Melissa Verdecia in a vivid red dress, who at times stood alone and apart from the other 10 dancers (five men, five women) as an outsider and observer and other times, enfolded and protected within the group, concealed or visible, lifted high or carried about by the dancers. She also performed in duets, where the male dancer’s partner was left out, or in trios, where both partners participated. It was accompanied by “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a somber classical piece, which set the tone for the choreography’s quiet and even quieter moments. Although the dancers expertly performed the lush, flowy movements, the lack of conflict or highs and lows gave the piece a one-dimensional, rather flat affect.

The rousing “Sombrerísimo” brought the audience back to life. It is inspired by the surrealism of Belgian painter René Magritte, renowned for his paintings of men in bowler hats. The work, originally created for and performed by six men, featured six of the company’s bowler-hatted female dancers, who more than proved their athletic mettle, with powerful lifts, precision turns, rigorous group actions, complex partnering, impeccable timing and individual star turns. The movements recalled the jazz style of Bob Fosse, interspersed with sharp, angular robotic movements and Lopez Ochoa’s unique presence, including a section featuring towering silhouettes of the dancers on the back wall as they strutted their stuff onstage. Every movement was perfectly executed and perfect. The musical selections were fittingly superb, especially: “Espinita” (thorn) by Italian brass band folk group Banda Ionica, with lead singer Dani Macaco, who has an incredible whiny, guttural catch in his throat, and the instrumental, “Payo Michto Zyriab de Cordoba” by French composer and extraordinary guitarist Titi Robin. (Payo means those who are not gypsy.)

“Homebound/Alaala” also explores identity through the intersection of Latinx and Filipino cultures, what the Playbill characterized as “the spirit of communal unity, the resilience of women, overcoming hardship and the quest for home.” It opened with a star-studded sky and sparkling lights hanging down from a series of strings downstage. There were dozens of varied-color boxes, a few saying “Fragile” and “Handle with Care” in large letters; others were written in another language, but most were left blank. Throughout the production, the dancers moved the boxes around the stage, from one side to the other, changing their configurations, here a tall wall to hide behind, dance in front of or pop up from, here a low rectangular wall from which to retrieve items, here a pile-up, always moving, moving them, too much moving. Other props had a shorter shelf life: big discs, which women briefly danced with and shook like a rice strainer, a cameo for oversized utensils. The 11 dancers placed 11 pairs of flip-flops downstage at various times, then simultaneously retrieved them, slapped them roughly against their bodies for a few seconds and then abandoned them, like old shoes. The choreographic rhythms were varied, with fast, slow and slow-choppy sections for group dances and multiple pairings, especially an ongoing gay relationship. The choreography was accompanied by music and song, most likely in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, with one duet performing in lyrical silence. A fine piece, but too many boxes.
Eila Valls and Jared Bogart in Edwaard Liang's 'El Viaje'.

Eila Valls and Jared Bogart in Edwaard Liang's "El Viaje".

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Melissa Verdecia in Edwaard Liang's 'El Viaje'.

Melissa Verdecia in Edwaard Liang's "El Viaje".

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispánico's all-female cast in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's “Sombrerísimo”.

Ballet Hispánico's all-female cast in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's “Sombrerísimo”.

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispánico's all-female cast in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's “Sombrerísimo”.

Ballet Hispánico's all-female cast in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's “Sombrerísimo”.

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispánico in Bennyroyce Royon's 'Homebound-Alaala'.

Ballet Hispánico in Bennyroyce Royon's "Homebound-Alaala".

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispánico's Melissa Verdecia in Bennyroyce Royon's 'Homebound-Alaala'.

Ballet Hispánico's Melissa Verdecia in Bennyroyce Royon's "Homebound-Alaala".

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo


Ballet Hispánico's Chris Bloom in Bennyroyce Royon's 'Homebound-Alaala'.

Ballet Hispánico's Chris Bloom in Bennyroyce Royon's "Homebound-Alaala".

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Lobo

ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
* **** ****


ExploreDance.com
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ******
exploredance.com


home || view our calendar || the store || copyright information || join our mailing list || mission statement
Search for articles by
Performance Reviews, Places to Dance, Fashion, Photography, Auditions, Politics, Health