White Bird Season Concludes with Exciting Ballet Hispanico, Celebrating Latino Cultures


When:   Wednesday, April 30, 7:30pm
Where:  Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall – 1037 SW Broadway, Portland
Tickets:  Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA)  NO added fees.
1-800-380-3516 (added fees apply).

Sponsor:  Darci H. Swindells and The Oregonian
Info:  www.whitebird.org

“The Latin-American experience at last has a voice.” –The New York Times

White Bird is excited to conclude its 16th season with Ballet Hispanico, April 30, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.  Celebrating 43 years of dance and culture, Ballet Hispanico is recognized as the nation’s premiere Latino dance organization. Based in New York City, Ballet Hispanico explores, preserves, and celebrates Latino cultures though contemporary dance. Last appearing with White Bird in 2003, Ballet Hispanico has become bold, innovative, and impassioned under the inspiring new artistic leadership of Eduardo Vilaro. He has injected thrilling energy into Ballet Hispanico by commissioning work from some of the most talked-about choreographers in Spain, Latin America, and the US.
Particularly noteworthy is that of the 14 gifted company dancers, Portland native Jessica Alejandra Wyatt will perform with the company for the first time in her hometown.  Jessica began her training at The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre.  She studied with her mother Elena Carter, former Dance Theatre of Harlem principal and a beloved dance instructor in Portland who passed away in 2006.  Jessica was an acclaimed member of Chicago’s Luna Negra Dance Theater from 2004-09 and joined Ballet Hispanico in 2009 at the time that Luna Negra’s founder Eduardo Vilaro was named the new Artistic Director of Ballet Hispanico.

Ballet Hispanico’s program for White Bird will include four dance works showcasing the company’s vibrant theatricality, athleticism, and passion.  The opening work is Asuka (2011), choreographed by Eduardo Vilaro, performed by 12 dancers that celebrates the music of Celia Cruz through the lens of the Latino experience. Cruz, renowned as the “Queen of Salsa,” captured the heart of Latinos the world over and became a symbol of perseverance for many. Through rich imagery and humor, Eduardo Vilaro explores the struggles of departure from one’s homeland and the exuberance of success experienced by a community. The second piece Sombrerísimo(2013), by Belgium-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, is a gripping exploration of identity, referencing the surrealist world of the Belgian painter René Magritte, famous for his paintings of men in bowler hats. The piece features 6 dancers with recorded music by Banda Ionica performing Macaco el Mono Loco, Titi Robin, and various other artists.

Sortijas (2013) was conceived and choreographed by Cayetano Soto, originally from Spain and now based in Munich, Germany.  Music is by Lhasa de Sela. This darkly lush duet explores Soto’s ponderings on the unavoidable pull of fate in our lives.  The program will conclude with the West Coast premiere of the wonderfully colorful El Beso (2014), the first work by Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramírez Sansano for Ballet Hispanico. With 13 dancers, this is a spirited look at the nuances of a kiss set to Spanish Zarzuela music and featuring original costumes by Venezuelan fashion designer Angel Sanchez. Music is by Amadeo Vives, Tomás Bretón, Reveriano Soutullo, Juan Vert, and Ruperto Chapi.

Ballet Hispanico was founded in New York City in 1970 by Tina Ramirez, who was recognized for her achievements with the National Medal of Arts (the nation’s highest cultural honor).  She started the company as a dance school and community-based performing arts ensemble, and developed it into one of the major dance companies in the world. Under her direction, over 45 choreographers created works for the Company, many of international stature and others in the early stages of their career. The Company has performed for an audience of nearly 3 million, throughout 11 countries, on 3 continents.

In 2009, Eduardo Vilaro stepped into position as Artistic Director of the company. Formerly a Ballet Hispanico dancer, Vilaro is a first generation Cuban-American, and he is only the second person to head the company since it was founded. While at Ballet Hispanico, he performed throughout the U.S., Latin America and Europe and assisted founder Tina Ramirez with the development of dance education residencies.  As an accomplished choreographer, he has created works for the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lexington Ballet, the Civic Ballet of Chicago, and over 20 ballets for Luna Negra Dance Theater, the company he founded in Chicago in 1999. He has collaborated with major dance and design artists as well as musicians such as Paquito D’Rivera, Susana Baca, Luciana Souza, and Tiempo Libre. In 2001 he was a recipient of a Ruth Page Award for choreography, and in 2003 he was honored for his choreographic work at Panama’s II International Festival of Ballet. He was a guest speaker at the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Leaders and the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture, and continues to speak to the growing need for cultural diversity and dance education.

White Bird’s presentation of Cayetano Soto’s “Sortijas” was made possible by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project. Major support for NDP is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
White Bird’s 2013/14 season is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Work for Art, James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Ronnie Lacroute Foundation Fund of the Cornell University Foundation, Juan Young Trust, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, Herbert H. Templeton Foundation..

White Bird Season Concludes with Exciting Ballet Hispanico, Celebrating Latino Cultures