The ballet has never been so exciting!
Ballet Hispanico danced it’s way across the Wolf Trap stage on Tuesday night, with beautiful grace! Having never seen this group before, I wasn’t sure what the evening would hold. The format is great…a 20 minute sequence, then intermission, another 20 minute sequence, then intermission, followed by the final 20 minutes. It is an enjoyable way to do it! Each 20 minute segment has it’s own theme which is broken into different scenes that cover different times of day.
Act I: “Guajira” is a wonderful combination of ballet and interpretive dance, depicting the Cuban men and women in the countryside, who spend their day working and then transition into the parties they have at night. There are 5 separate dances with the thread of the theme running through them. The dancers are very expressive and make their way through the dances with such ease, that you would almost think it’s easy! The costumes, designed by Ann Hould-Ward are a perfect match for the theme and the dancers are able to move freely. For one of the scenes though, I would have liked the skirt to be a shorter version and the transition into that duet to move faster. Although, it was the only slow transition of the entire show, making me wonder if it was just a technical difficulty!? The Act ends with a lively combination that uses moves from each of the previous scenes and tied everything together nicely. The choreography of Pedro Ruiz is fantastically executed by each of the eight dancers. They move in rhythmic syncopation and are extremely versatile dancers.
Act II: “Asuka” is described as a “celebration of the music of Celia Cruz” who is known throughout the world as, “The Queen of Salsa”. Her recognizable voice is the equivalent of french-born Edith Piaf, as you would know either one in an instant! This lead me to enjoy the show that much more. Choreographer Eduardo Vilaro masterfully wove salsa and ballet together to create a masterpiece. The costumes are bright and added to the fun. The first scene of this Act was mostly performed by soloist Jessica Alejandra Wyatt, who is a brilliant dancer. This group of scenes has a better flow and really moved. Each scene got more and more interesting. The second scene in this Act uses two of the dancers, Andrea Salamanca and Donald Borror (whose names I’m not sure about because the program doesn’t have photos) in a steamy duet that had a great transition into a fantastic scene where all of the dancers performed to just a radio announcer for eight-count after eight-count and it was flawless. The whole troupe is very well-matched and as this Act progressed, the power in these dancers was awe-inspiring. The Act ends with an amazing performance by Jessica Alejandra Wyatt (in a stunning purple dress) and Rodney Hamilton dancing to “Guantanamera”. Their skill level is unreal and the upbeat spirit and choreography had people (ok, me) shimmying in their seats.
Act III: “Club Havana” is my favorite Act of the show. Choreographer Pedro Ruiz and Costume Designer Emilio Sosa really outdid themselves. The men are outfitted in a head to toe color and the women sparkle in their dresses. Vanessa Valecillos starts off the first scene with incredible moves showcasing her unreal back muscles. This Act takes us through varying styles of dance, like Rumba, Conga, Cha Cha, and Mambo, with style and flare. Scene 2 is a Mambo with Fosse stylings throughout. Scene 3 of this Act took it to another level….the “Cha Cha Cha” performed by Rodney Hamilton, Joshua Winzeler, and the extremely delicate and agile Min-Tzu Li. This is my favorite scene in the whole show. The choreography is unreal, but the way she moves is WOW! Her leg extensions are to be applauded and envied! The trio moves like oft butter on hot corn, with some cayenne on top!
All of the dancers are agile and exciting to watch. Each Act builds to the next and it wasn’t just all about ballet. The incorporation of each style of dance was terrific and the lighting throughout is perfect. My only complaint is the program. For Acts I and II, the program doesn’t breakdown which dancers do what, but for Act III it does. It does have bios for each performer, but no pictures, so I couldn’t put the names with the dances at the show and had to go by memory to do the review. I was able to piece together who did what by going to their website. Other than that, it was a great night!
I will put a note, that obviously if you are into dance, it is a wonderful way to spend an evening. If you appreciate dance, you will still love it, but if you are not into this kind of performance art, it might not be for you!
Act I grade: B+, great dancing, but a slower pace and made me a little concerned for the night ahead, but well executed and overall terrific
Act II grade: A, this Act built on it’s own and everything fell into place. The choreography was terrific and it had a VERY strong finish.
Act III grade: A+, my favorite part of the show. It had the best build and from start to finish. The men had a group dance that was again, very strong!
Overall Grade: A
Venue for performance: A, Wolf Trap is and excellent stage for this type of show and the outdoors only enhanced the experience. On a side note, the start time was 8:30, which was the perfect time, allowing us to enjoy Ovations and relax before the festivities.
For more info on Ballet Hispanico go to www.ballethispanico.org
And for the rest of the season at Wolf Trap, go to www.wolftrap.org