Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's Línea Recta (Photo by Erin Baiano)

New York, New York June 6, 202- - Ballet Hispanico celebrated its second season at City Center. True to its mission, Ballet Hispanico offers a voice to Latine choreographers as well as stellar dancers.

The program opened with William Forsythe’s 1987 duet New Sleep, dedicated to the memory and legacy of Tina Ramirez, founding director (1929-2022). Fatima Andere and Antonio Cangiano, were almost always physically connected in high tech, quick partnering to composer Thom Willem’s aggressive score of metallic clanking sounds. Their exquisite pairing superseded the score, with luscious grand ronde de jambs, attitude pirouettes, torso undulations, arabesques en pointe.

In Linea Recta, (2016), choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa has managed to pay homage to flamenco dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries in Spain. She modernizes the form featuring amazing partnering for eight dancers with music by Eric Vaarzon Morel, costumes by Danielle Truss, and imaginative lighting by Michael Mazzola.

A beautiful woman in a red gown with a long flowing train, her back to the audience, undulates erotically with feminine arms gesturing. Flamenco guitar supports a trio of two men with the woman, partnering and flinging the train as if it were another dancer. Four bare chested men in red pants enter for the "Scorpion Dance," circling, grabbing the skirt, and manipulating the woman. Later, four women circle in air movements, until the Finale, when everyone swirls in circles and dance before walking to the front of the stage, turning, and ending in silhouette recalling the original woman at the beginning.

Mexican American choreographer Michelle Manzanales explores the life and legacy of iconic 17th century Mexican feminist, poet, scholar, and nun, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, in her new work, Sor Juana. Manzanales accomplishes the difficult task of telling the life story of this woman through dance drama, sound score that includes liturgical choral singing as well as mumbling voices, bird tweets…and costume changes (by Sam Ratelle) on stage. Foggy smoke and a woman (Sor Juana)appears in a black skirted gown with white bodice, which changes-- first to a robe implying a nun’s habit, and then to a modern white leotard -- her vision of women in the future. Letters fall from the ceiling, representing Juana’s poetry and argumentative writings against the Catholic Church for limiting women’s rights. Kudos to this choreographer for enlightening us with this historical profile.

An audience favorite, Club Havana, (2000), by Pedro Ruiz, ended the show. Four sexy couples appear, some smoking cigars or cigarettes, setting the scene for caballo, cha cha, rumba, and conga rhythms and dances… flirtations, posturing, and partnering through dazzling technique and bravado.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman


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