La Havana, Feb 27 (Prensa Latina)
Belgium-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez today pervades celestial energy to the Cuban National Ballet (BNC) with a new choreography inspired by the only concert for violin by Russian composer Piotr Ilich Tchaikowski.
The dancers of the prestigious company are breathing another dynamic, enjoying the change of air, and have been rehearsing for four weeks until sunset imbued with a romantic song and a classical dance proposal that in turn is far from traditional conceptions. I like to compose with the esthetic of classical lines and point shoes, and that kind of elegant music, but I would like to depict a stronger image of the woman, the choreographer told exclusively to Prensa Latina.
The BNC is well-known for its virtuoso dancers, so I thought: we will play with this, however I like to change the archetype of the classical ballerina and the man behind that is barely visible, said Lopez applauded as a new star in the Dutch press since the beginning of her professional career. Celeste is an abstract piece, full of sense, presenting the evolution of a star in a nocturnal sky,where each of the three soloists who performs the star has a male companion, because according to the choreographer, a person reveals itself through its relations with others. This last week with the BNC is for me the week where we will be pinpointing the intentions of the dancers, because we are going to feel that later more than the movements, the choreographer said.
On the pictures; Viengsay Valdes and Gian Carlo Perez.
Credit: Nancy Reyes
By Rebecca Ritzel
Excerpt of the article "Ballet, modern dance separated by blurred line"
Over the next two weekends, Washington audiences will have a chance to see programs that demonstrate just how fuzzy that line is. On Wednesday night at the Harman Center for the Arts, the Washington Ballet will present its “Jazz/Blues Project,” featuring works by Trey McIntyre and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, two relatively young choreographers known for flying back and forth, across continents, creating works for ballet and contemporary companies.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa grew up dancing at the Royal Ballet of Flanders but began her professional career with a jazz dance troupe. As a choreographer, she has become a global commodity. Her work was seen in Washington last month, when Ballet Hispanico performed “Sombrerísimo.” That was a light ensemble piece for the company’s men, but she also is known for her serious pointe pieces, including “A Streetcar Named Desire” for the Scottish Ballet. Later this year, she’ll become the first outside choreographer to receive a paid commission from the National Ballet of Cuba. Her new work for the Washington Ballet is called “Prism,” and it’s set to a piano score — which will be performed live — by Keith Jarrett.
“I am a contemporary choreographer who is in love with the aesthetic of the pointe show. I was not going to have this new Washington Ballet work be performed in toe shoes, but I changed my mind a week into rehearsals, because they look so beautiful on pointe.
“People dream away when dancers are on pointe shoes, because it’s so supernatural. It’s abstract. But contemporary dance reflects the society where we are today, more than a piece by Balanchine. It can be about themes, like loneliness. It’s much more raw, and the bodies of the dancers are more like us. Ballerinas are elegant. The audience is asking for that distinction: What I am paying for? That’s why [places such as the Kennedy Center] make a distinction between contemporary and ballet.
“In Europe, people like to be surprised more. The innovative thing is more fashionable here. I like the variety. That I am not put into a box. That’s a bit of a problem, because people don’t know what to expect. My tools are the dancers, and I adapt to what I see. I don’t want to label myself into one form of movement, to one energy. And I hope that’s how my career continues. I like being able to view ballet as just dancing in a very high-heeled pair of shoes.”
It’s been three weeks since I’ve started my new work for The Washington Ballet and I’m so excited to see the work come to life on one of my favorite compositions: Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert. It will probably ring a bell to many jazz-lovers as being an iconic album that has sold millions of copies since 1975. I’m so happy to share this music (which I’ve known for twenty years now) with the fans and also with the ones who will discover it for the first time.
For this creation I’ve been focusing on how to honor this mesmerizing music, and as I got to know the music better every day, I feel that there should be more room for stillness, room for the music to be, for the moment to happen, for an image to appear and sustain.... ‘Stillness’, a strange choice of words in a world of movement.
The costumes that I’ve designed myself for the piece have also been a work-in-progress these three weeks. I’m passing by Monica’s [Monica Leland, TWB’s Wardrobe Supervisor] workshop almost every day to talk about details but also about the build-up from stillness to celebration. How can we translate and achieve this in costumes?
Creation is a continuous progress of ideas, until D-day arrives.... at the end of January 2014.
Delighted that Sombrerisimo was included to Wendy Perron Dance Magazine's Best of 2013.
"Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s snazzy, jazzy Sombrerísimo for Ballet Hispanico, commissioned by Fall for Dance at New York City Center. When these six guys toss their hats while salsa-ing, you want to follow them to the beach."
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
Does the NYTimes like it, or not ???
"Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Sombrerísimo,” which had its premiere at Fall for Dance in October, improved upon a second viewing. It is a stylish and spirited dance for six men and their hats, and if its misterioso passages convey more mood than meaning, there’s brisk invention in its use of haberdashery. With partial success, the work sets up a contrast between the men dancing for themselves — their arms in ballroom position without partners — and their showing off sexily for us. They don’t have to remove their button-down shirts to look fantastic. The Apollo audience roared." (By Brian Seibert)
Photo credit: Paula Lobo
The piece "Symbiosis" was made with no money in the Dominican Republic. We gathered during the free time of the dancers of the Ballet Nacional Dominicano and made a 17-minute piece. There was an urgency, a joy and concentration during the entire creation process. We were lucky to be able to present the work during "Otoño Danza" at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo on November 15, 2013.
For the trailer, I found this beautiful location in the Zona Colonial, the old historic city of Santo Domingo.
After 4 weeks in the Dominican Republic, my piece "Still@Life" is slowly taking shape. Orginally created for BalletX in 2008, a company based in Philadelphia, this time I am revisitng the piece for the Ballet Nacional Dominicano with a new look - in terms of costumes, lights and ideas. The concept remains the same; "Still@life" brings the apple, the biblical symbol in many paintings, to life.
We made a trailer on the steps of the breathtaking Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo.
Here are some of the lasting imprint that the 6 incredible male dancers of Ballet Hispanico left on the press and audience of NYC.OBERON'S GROVE- Philip Gardner
" A sextet of men from Ballet Hispanico evoked a frenzied ovation in Sombrerísimo, a world premiere commissioned by City Center for Fall for Dance and choreographed by Belgian-Colombian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. This sexy and animated dancework, using a collage score by Banda Ionica, Macaco el Mono Loco, Titi Robin, Lisa Gerrard and Michael Small, gave the Hispanico boys an opportunity to unleash both their technical prowess and their charismatic theatricality. Ms. Lopez Ochoa's choreography filled the space with eye-popping movement and brilliant interaction between the six men, as well as much by-play with the hats that inspired the ballet's title. Joshua Preston's lighting was atmospheric and expertly timed, and the added effect of shadow-dancing threw an extra dose of magic into the piece.
Dancers Mario Ismael Espinoza, Jamal Rashann Callender, Alexander Duval, Marcos Rodriguez and Joshua Winzeller all dazzled with electrifying moves, athletic partnering and ample sex-appeal while Company newcomer Christopher Bloom seized a solo opportunity - all the hats stacked on his head - to make his own personal mark. The crowd went nuts at the end of this piece as the boys tossed their hats into the air."
DANCE PULP - Stav Ziv
" Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sombrerisimo was your crush, whose presence in the room makes you feel nervous, giddy, and wildly happy with a tinge of hope. It was playful but not silly. It was sexy and masculine. It was six men onstage owning the space and choreography that pushed you to the edge of your seat with a grin spreading from ear to ear.
It started with Christopher Bloom walking onstage, a black hat in hand stretched high overhead. His movement slowed to still until five others – similarly dressed in black pants and solid button-downs in different colors – overwhelmed the stage and snapped him out of a reverie. The six stood close in a circle and each grabbed another’s hat, peeling out and back in to repeat the process.
What followed was a magnetic unfurling of jumping, turning, running, and partnering in unison, in clumps, in pairs, in trios set to a combination of soundscape and music by Banda Ionica. Several times, the men put one hand to their chests, and another out to the side in a solo chacha or, all caution to the wind, a little personal boogie. These moments – along with the rib isolations and body rolls – added sensuality where virtuosity was a given.
The lighting by Joshua Preston was at once simple and brilliant – thrown here and there and casting larger than life shadows of behatted figures against a dark backdrop. In the final moment, the dancers threw their hats up high a la graduation as a bright light flashed, and froze with all limbs askance as the hats fell to the ground and the stage went black.
A Fall for Dance commission performed by Ballet Hispanico, the piece went directly to the heart of what this festival is all about and gave it a squeeze. Ochoa has made dance that will make people want to see more dance."
NY TIMES- Brian Seibert
" Ballet Hispanico’s contribution was a world premiere, a Fall for Dance commission from the Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. “Sombrerísimo” is a dance for six men in hats. The hats, which the men keep swapping, might recall Magritte, yet the choreography, at its best, is more in the Bob Fosse line. With its elastic groupings, acrobatic partnering, and touches of Latin sexiness, “Sombrerísimo” proved an effective vehicle for the company’s men. The liveliest dance of the evening, it received the greatest ovation."THE DANCE CRITIC- Sophie Flack
Ballet Hispanico’s performed “Somberisimo,” a World Premiere by
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The music by Banda Ionica set a playful
atmosphere for showcasing six male dancers wearing black bowler hats.
And as the title suggests, the hats served as a choreographic devise:
they trade hats, throw one up only to catch someone else’s. While
clearly classically trained, these Ballet Hispanico dancers are also
extremely athletic: they partnered each other, and one dancer even
flipped across the stage.
The absence of women (that is until Ochoa took the stage for her bow) didn’t transform the piece into an overly masculinized dance. Instead it was made more sensual in that we were made aware of the absence of women: the dancers repeatedly salsa alone with a hand hovering by an imaginary waist. The effect is sensual, even sexy. At the ballet’s conclusion “Somberisimo” received thunderous applause and a well-deserved standing ovation."