For their third, one-night only appearance at the Apollo Theater, Ballet Hispanico presented three works. As a company rich in the tradition of Hispanic culture, artistic director Eduardo Vilaro is taking Ballet Hispanico in a different direction than former founder and artistic director Tina Ramirez. Though the nod to Hispanico culture is still the integral focus of the company, Vilaro is directing the company to include dance works that celebrate the depth and width of the entire Latin traditions, not just Euro-Western Latino culture. The dance triptych presented on Saturday expresses Ballet Hispanico’s more expansive point of view.
The ballet that came closest to having audience appeal while blending a variety of dance styles was Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sombrerisimo. Using a derby hat as a prop has been done on countless occasion. (Bob Fosse was a genius at winding unique ways to incorporate hats, canes, and gloves into choreography without allowing the prop to be the main focus of the work.)
Ochoa’s utilizes great partnering for the men in this male tour de force. Ochoa also infuses technique from modern dance, ballet, flamenco and lyrical jazz, all while several derby hats are passed back and forth, caught in the air, ricocheted and used as a centerpiece of the choreography. Though Sombrerisimo highlights the versatility and technical acumen of Ballet Hispanico’s men, the work is not without humor or lyricism. Jamal Callendar and Mario Espinosa are the standouts in this work with Callendar setting himself apart as the premier danseur of the company.
—William S. Gooch