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Review: Ballet Hispánico in a ‘not to be missed’ performance at the Apollo Theatre

By Natasha Nesic, Contributing Writer, November 22, 2016 

If you were around the Apollo Theatre this past weekend, you hopefully were able to catch a performance of Ballet Hispánico’s Reshape / Reverse / Replay, which was not to be missed.

The performance began with Flabbergast (2011), which could only be described as an easy armchair of sensation. Ballet Hispánico’s skill lies in rendering its culture universally accessible, bringing together themes that we can all identify with. Passion comes first and foremost, exhibited in every joyful line of the dancers’ bodies as they bend like water through the piece. Flabbergast also touched on notions of home and displacement, as choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano channeled the history of Latin immigrants pre-World War I.

The program continued with Linea Recta (World Premiere), which was an entirely different creature. If your prime motivation for attending this performance revolved around one piece, this might have been the one. Commissioned in part by the Apollo Theater and Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, set to live guitar and vocals by Eric Vaarzon Morel, Peter Bogdanos, and Aurora Reyes, the stage was dominated by a swath of dragon women and their subservient men. Soloist Melissa Fernandez did not need to steal the show—it was hers from the beginning. The audience was in her thrall—held rapt with every twist of her shape. Kudos to choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa for putting together this work of beauty and sexuality, both raw and controlled.

The final piece was Danzón (2009), a homage to Cuban dance in every shape and form. The violet-clad dancers, jiving with their partners, formed a tableau not unlike a Cuban “Waltz of the Flowers.” The music consisted of the laid-back tunes, “You’ve Changed,” by Carey/Fischer, “Danzón” by Paquito d’Rivera, and “A Night in Tunisia,” by Dizzy Gillespie/F. Papaprelli.

All in all, the evening was a tour de force of Latin expression—yet universal in its exuberance. Ballet Hispanico will be presenting a series of performances at the Joyce Theater in April — so get your tickets now!

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Ballet Hispánico at the Apollo Theater (253 West 125th Street) in performance on November 18, 2016 (repeated November 19). Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director and CEO.

Flabbergast (2011); choreography by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano; music by Juan García Esquivel.

Linea Recta (World Premiere); choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; costumes by Danielle Truss; musicians: Eric Vaarzon Morel (guitar), Peter Bogdanos, and Aurora Reyes.

Danzón (2009); choreography by Eduardo Vilaro; music: “You’ve Changed,” by Carey/Fischer, “Danzón” by Paquito d’Rivera, and “A Night in Tunisia,” by Dizzy Gillespie/F. Papaprelli.

Company members: Ashley Anduiza, Christopher Bloom, Shelby Colona, Mario Ismael Espinoza, Nick Fearon, Melissa Fernandez, Mark Gieringer, Jenna Marie, Eila Valls, Lyvan Verdecia, Diana Winfree, Joshua Winzeler.

Cover: Ballet Hispánico in ‘Linea Recta’; photo: Paula Lobo


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