Thursday, October 21, 2021

Ballet Hispánico to perform at the Wharton Center

October 14, 2021
Courtesy of Wharton Center
Courtesy of Wharton Center —

The largest Latinx cultural organization in the United States, Ballet Hispánico is coming to the Wharton Center on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

The Latin dance company will be performing a combination of ballet, modern and Latin dance to celebrate 50 years of operation.

In their 50 years, they have focused on giving a voice to those underrepresented in the world of dance and creating a place for Latinx performers to prosper. 

“The mission in the company is access," "We go on tour and we get to share in different residencies. Whenever we go to a city, we, more often than not, have an opportunity to go into different schooling,” Lenai Wilkerson, a dancer with the company, said.

They have traveled to education, senior and incarcerated youth centers to share their art.

“I think that’s the whole purpose of what we’re doing is to use our culture, backgrounds, and the rich tradition of our different Latin diasporic backgrounds and share that with the world,” Wilkerson said.

On Oct. 26, they will be sharing this tradition with the East Lansing community at the Wharton Center. Wilkerson said they will be bringing back some numbers that haven’t been done in a few decades to celebrate their 50-year milestone. 

One of the numbers they’re bringing back is “Arabesque,” choreographed by Vicente Nebrada.

"'Arabesque is a beautiful ballet that encompasses the greatest part about the company, which for me is this fusion and beauty that contemporary dance offers," Wilkerson said. "So, it is a balletic piece that is inspired by different Latinx diasporic dance practices, such as flamenco.”

Other performances are more recent, such as “Tiburones” choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.

Wilkerson described it as “one of our many political works we have.”

"Tiburones" means sharks in Spanish and a nod towards the West Side Story Sharks versus Jets storyline, she said. It's a piece that brings in many different styles.

"Something that’s so interesting about bringing back older works is the relevance," Wilkerson said. "You have to ask that question, what is the relevance of bringing it back. As Steven Spielberg was curating the new wave of West Side Story, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa asked that question of what will be the depiction of Puerto Ricans because of how Puerto Ricans were depicted in the original musical and film and so we will be commenting on that.”

Another piece they will be performing is “18+1” choreographed by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano.

“It’s a piece that is so lighthearted in moments and also so serious in others and just a beautiful comedic ballet that celebrates Gustavo’s 19th year of choreography,” Wilkerson said. 

These three pieces and more will be center stage on Oct. 26. Public and student tickets for Ballet Hispánico are currently available through the Wharton Center website.

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