A brilliant “Noche de Oro” planned for the 50th anniversary of the Ballet Hispánico
Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Hispánico, is only the second person to lead the company since its inception in 1970. The website of the New York-based company tells us that Vilaro “has infused the heritage of the Ballet. Hispánico with a bold dance brand that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape.
Wow. What that means, said Vilaro, who has won numerous awards including the Ruth Page Prize for choreography, MAN MagazinePioneer of arts and culture of the year 2017, the West Side Spirit’s WESTY Award, and a Compassionate Leaders Award — just adds modern ideas into the mix of what they do.
“We are not a folkloric business,” he said by phone from New York. “We are creating new ways of seeing our culture. “
Dancing has a unique way of doing it with non-verbal language, he thinks. “Dance helps people connect with culture,” he said. “We don’t use Spanish, English or Spanish. This is an investigation of who we are here in America. It’s accessible and innovative.
This will be on display on November 6 at Cal Performances, when the company will present “Noche De Oro — A Celebration Of 50 Years! at the Zellerbach room.
“It’s a tribute to 50 years of creating works,” said Vilaro. “We start with a beautiful piece by Venezuelan choreographer Vicente Nebrada, Arabesque, which mixes classical ballet with flamenco. So there are flamenco hands and flamenco eyes.
The title of the next piece, Spanish for “sharks”, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa Tiburones refers to the 1961 film West Side Story, and the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, attacking stereotypes in Latinx culture.
“West Side Story has left a lot of cultural scars for Latinos, ”Vilaro said. “And let me tell you, I can sing any song. At first it was like, ‘Oh, I’m portrayed in the movies!’ and then it was like, ‘Oooooh, I’m portrayed in the movies.’ The article talks a lot about how the media gaze is used to catalog us. The audience that saw him went mad. “
The third piece is by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano 18 + 1, who celebrates his work as a creator for 18 years, with the music of Pérez Prado, known as the King of Mambo.
“It’s like, ‘What is fusion? Who are we? We are Americans, ”Vilaro said. “We are an American company and we use 60s mambo music.”
Good news (well, really, fantastic news) for the company in its 50se year: The fabulous MacKenzie Scott, who has distributed huge portions of her $ 59 billion to anti-racism organizations and arts groups, recently donated $ 10 million to Ballet Hispánico. Vilaro says the money will go to endowments, scholarships for young people, supporting dancers and keeping the company going beyond the next 50 years.
Vilaro took the news as you would expect.
“When someone calls you and tells you that we love what you do and want to support you unconditionally, what do you do? ” He asked. ” I fell. I said to them, “Can you repeat that again? I am a kid from the Bronx. I can’t even imagine what a million dollars looks like.
NOCHE DE ORO – A 50 YEARS CELEBRATION! Sat / 6 to 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley. More info here.