Ballet Hispanico mixes Latin dance style, traditional ballet

Ballet Hispanico, recognized as the nation's leading Latino dance organization, performed March 27 at 8 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium. (Contributed photo)

Recognized as the nation’s leading Latino dance organization, Ballet Hispanico took to Fisher Auditorium stage Thursday.

Hank Knerr, the director of The Lively Arts, said he saw booking this troupe in its 42nd season as an opportunity for the audience to experience a different culture through contemporary dance.

“The more we know about the world in general, the better we understand it,” Knerr said. “As a university, we have an obligation to expose and teach our students about other parts of the world.

Ballet Hispanico has the experience to teach this lesson, Knerr said.

“The dancers have distinguished themselves and have performed around the globe,” he said. “Ballet Hispanico takes Latin rhythms and uses them in a way most troupes don’t.

The dance displayed in this performance is different than traditional dance styles, according to Knerr.

“Using Latin styles like the Merengue with a contemporary ballet form makes the show unique,” he said.

Students expressed excitement about being given the chance to see this performance.

“I’m with the Ritmo Latino Dance Crew, so I was excited to see the fusion of Latin culture within the ballet,” Gabrielle Reed (freshman, English) said. “I also took ballet for nine years, so I know the skill and ability it takes to do balletic dancing.”

Reed said that because she had studied both ballet and Latino dancing, she could pick out where Latin movements had influenced the ballet.

She said she believed that everyone who got to see it enjoyed the fantastic performance.

In an interview with NBC New York, Eduardo Vilaro, the artistic director of Ballet Hispanico, and troupe dancer Kimberly Van Woesik expressed positive feelings toward the production.

“As a Hispanic woman, I think it’s really wonderful to be able to get in touch with that side of who I am,” Van Woesik said. “Ballet Hispanico has brought me to that place where I can celebrate who I am, and I can be a part of a company that’s celebrating not only the art form of dance but of a culture as a whole, so it’s really awesome.”

The show used the universal art form of dance to break cultural barriers, according to Vilaro.

“Dance, as in all art, is that breaker of all fear, and it allows you to commune,” Vilaro said.

“And so not only Latinos can talk about their culture, but other people from other cultures can enjoy and be immersed in those cultures.”