Ballet Hispánico continues its 50th-anniversary celebrations with a slate of new works created and performed remotely. Composed of pre-recorded videos, the evening will also include appearances from celebrities such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rita Moreno, Gloria Estefan, Norman Lear, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill and more.
Tied together under the banner “Noche Unidos,” the festivities kick off June 30 at 7:30 p.m. on the dance company’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube page. Though the event will be free to stream, donations will be accepted.
Viewers can expect to see the virtual world premiers of works by choreographers Carlos Pons Guerra, Michelle Manzanales, Andrea Miller, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Pedro Ruiz, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Nancy Turano and Eduardo Vilaro. The pieces will be performed by Ballet Hispánico company dancers and students.
“’Noche Unidos’ is beyond anything we could have imagined several months ago,” Vilaro, who took the helm of the company as artistic director in 2009 and CEO in 2015, said in a statement. “This will be a spectacular virtual celebration of Ballet Hispánico with a group of amazing Latinx artists from across the nation coming together to honor the legacy of Tina Ramirez and Ballet Hispánico’s roots while looking forward, beyond our 50th anniversary.”
The company was founded by Ramirez in 1970 as a dance school and community-based arts group that provided opportunities for dancers of Hispanic heritage.
“In my company, I really just want artists, and it takes a long time to form them,” Ramirez said in a 1976 interview with The New York Times. “But I also want to show who we — the Hispanics — are.”
Since taking over the company, Vilaro has continued this mission while pushing the group’s repertoire.
“There is still work to be done,” Vilaro said. “Ballet Hispánico intends to pave the way and create these opportunities for Latinx voices to be amplified through dance, education and our communities.”
The virtual celebration coincides with a free online program hosted by the company amid the COVID-19 pandemic and related closures. Titled “B Unidos,” the series presents new videos created by different arms of the Ballet Hispánico community.
“Now more than ever, it is important to band together in support of the arts,” Vilaro said in a March statement announcing the initiative. “The personal and professional challenges that we have already endured and will continue to face over the next few weeks or months are significant. What we can take from this time of cancellations, uncertainty and social distancing is a chance to use our creativity to connect with the community on a new level.”
Continuing this notion of connectivity, “Noche Unidos” presents an opportunity for dancers and choreographers to create across space. As organizers articulated in the event’s announcement: “The choreographers are social distancing in locations around the world, and our dancers are across the country, yet the beauty of dance transcends the distance between them.”
Top Image: Ballet Hispánico dancer Lenai Alexis Wilkerson for "Mambo for 50," choreographed by Nancy Turano and presented as part of "Noche Unidos." Photo: Nancy Turano.