Hispanic ballet: fighting stereotypes

Hispanic ballet: fighting stereotypes
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Virginia Bautista

An emblem of Latin American culture in the United States for 53 years, the Ballet Hispánico will carry out its first tour of various entities in Mexico next year, during which it will present its vision of the hybrid identity and traditions of the subcontinent.

Founded in 1970 by Ernestina Tub Ramírez, daughter of the Mexican bullfighter José Ramírez, Gaonite, and the Puerto Rican Gloria Cestero, this New York-based group has just performed for the first time in the Aztec country at the 51st International Cervantino Festival.

Incredible as it may seem, we had not come to Mexico. The representation of Hispanics that we have had for 53 years in the US has been strong. It has taken us a long time to highlight those Latin American voices in places that are not recognized. “We have helped to see the power of this community and how it has been integrated into the United States,” says Cuban Eduardo Vilaro in an interview.

The artistic director of the company since 2009 is convinced that they have achieved a change in the way Americans see Latin culture. “There are 49 million Mexicans in this country; But that representation is still needed, because, when you are not American and you are an immigrant, the treatment is different.”

The former dancer highlights the African musical heritage of Latin communities. “Our purpose is to show the strength of what we are, the Latin strength: that we are not one, but many,” he adds.

He explains that they still do not know in which states of Mexico they will appear. “But we will bring the most representative choreographies from our repertoire. For example, a work by the Mexican-American Michelle Manzanales inspired by the life and work of the nun and poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, which has just been released.”

Vilaro details that they will also execute Straight line, by the Belgian-Colombian Annabelle López Ochoa, who explores an intriguing aspect of flamenco dance: the conspicuous absence of a partner. “While she maintains the integrity and distinctive passion of the genre, her creator imagines an original and explosive body language.”

He says that they have also put together a ballet about the life of the Argentine Evita Perón. “Our dance is pure expression of the body, there is a mix of theater, it is a strong movement, it is athletic, but also dramatic.”

He concludes that the dancers of the company, which has a repertoire of more than 75 works, have become very professional during the last decade; Therefore, in addition to the functions, they offer workshops in the community they visit. “We think about dance in a comprehensive way.”

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