Founded more than 45 years ago by Tina Ramirez, Ballet Hispánico brings communities together to celebrate Hispanic cultures. Its repertory draws from classical ballet to Spanish flamenco, Latin social dances to Afro-Cuban rhythms. Through performances, dance training programs, and community outreach, Ballet Hispánico inspires people of all ages and backgrounds.

View Transcript

THE MISSION IS TO BRING TOGETHER INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES TO CELEBRATE, SHARE, EXPLORE THE JOYS, THE HERITAGE OF LATINO CULTURES.

AND SO, IN THAT MISSION THE VISION IS ABOUT OPENING UP THIS DIALOGUE FOR EVERYONE TO EXPLORE WHAT IT IS TO BE LATINO TODAY.

I'VE BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE ORGANIZATION SINCE 1985.

FIRST AS A DANCER.

THEN AS THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR.

BALLET HISPANICO HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 1980.

SHE BEGAN WITH A HANDFUL OF YOUNG LADIES WHO WANTED TO LEARN HOW TO DANCE PROFESSIONALLY.

THE BALLET SCHOOL OF DANCE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS.

IT'S ABOUT GIVING ACCESS TO THE ART FORM FOR ANYONE.

STUDENTS CAN STUDY ALL DIFFERENT, BALLET, HIP HOP, WE HAVE THE TRADITIONAL DANCE FORMS THAT WE CELEBRATE, CLASSICAL SPANISH DANCE, FLAMINCO.

WE'RE HONORING HISTORY BUT WE'RE TAKING IT TO THE FUTURE.

I CONSIDER BALLET HISPANICO A CONTEMPORARY LATINO DANCE COMPANY.

WE ARE LOOKING AT THE CULTURE IN A CONTEMPORARY WAY.

THE DANCERS ARE HIGHLY TRAINED IN CLASSICAL DANCE, BECAUSE THAT'S OUR HERITAGE.

♪♪

I TRAIN STRICTLY IN CLASSICAL BALLET IN THE CUBAN TRADITION FROM 5 TO 15.

I WENT TO AN ART HIGHS SCHOOL.

IN MIAMI.

WHICH OFFERED NOT ONLY A STRONG BASE IN CLASSICAL BALLET BUT MODERN FORMS.

I THINK SOMETHING THAT REALLY HELPED ME PREPARE FOR THIS ROLE THAT I'M NOW IN WAS THE IDEA THAT I COULDN'T JUST BOX MYSELF IN INTO ONE CATEGORY.

I WASN'T JUST A BALLET DANCER.

I WASN'T JUST A MODERN DANCER.

I DANCE HERE BECAUSE THEY WORK WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT CHOREOGRAPHERS.

WE WANT THEM TO BE THAT BLANK SLATE THAT IS WILLING TO TAKE THE RISK GO INTO THESE DIFFERENT ROLES, TO THESE DIFFERENT STYLES OF DANCE.

IT'S LIKE BEING A CHAMELEON.

THEY HAVE TO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES.

WE'RE GOING TO STAY TRUE TO OUR LATIN ROOTS.

THERE WILL BE MANY PIECES WHERE YOU SEE WHERE THERE'S INFLUENCE OF SALSA OR RUMBA.

AND THEN WE HAVE CONTEMPORARY MODERN.

I THINK THAT'S WHAT BALLET HISPANICA REPRESENTS.

A FUSION OF CULTURES AND STYLES.

IT'S A CONTEMPORARY BALLET THAT WAS CREATED IN COLLABORATION WITH PAQUITA RIVERA.

THE FUSION OF JAZZ WITH STRINGS.

WE ADDED LATIN RHYTHMS WHEN WE PUT IT TOGETHER.

ITS FUSION OF AFRICAN AND SPANISH AND MANY DIFFERENT FORMS OF MUSIC IN CUBA.

A LOT OF CHALLENGES OF BRINGING IN A NEW DANCE TO WORK LIKE THIS IS STYLE.

EACH CHOREOGRAPHER HAS THEIR OWN STYLE IN THEIR GENRE.

FOR ME TO GET A DANCER TO BE VERY TECHNICAL AND AT THE SAME TIME GROUNDED IN AFRO-CUBAN MOVEMENT IS A CHALLENGE.

SOMETIMES IT'S EASY TO PUSH THE TECHNICAL ASPECT.

THE ARTISTRY, THE INTENTION, THAT'S SOMETHING ELSE.

IT IS A WONDERFUL PROCESS.

BECAUSE IT'S THERE THAT THE ARTIST LEARNS A LOT OF THEMSELVES AND THEN REFLECTS IT BACK.

AND THAT REFLECTION IS IN THE PERFORMANCE AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL.

YES, THAT'S IT.

GOOD.

THIS IS LOVELY.

NONE OF THE DANCERS ARE ALIKE WHEN IT COMES TO PERSONALITY, CHARISMA, QUALITY OF MOVEMENT.

I NEED TO WORK AROUND THE 360 VIEW OF HOW THIS DANCER CAN USE THE MATERIAL AND NOW MAKE IT HIS OWN.

AS A DANCER MYSELF, IT'S LIKE I SET SOMETHING WHEN I WAS DOING THE SOLO.

NOW I WANT THAT PERSON TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY AND THE SPACE TO FIND THEIR OWN MESSAGE TO SHARE.

THINK ABOUT THE PROGRESSION OF GOING DOWN.

I WASN'T TOO FAMILIAR WITH LATIN STYLES OF DANCE COMING INTO BALLET HISPANICO.

IT WAS SOMETHING EVERYONE ELSE WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH.

SO THEY TAUGHT ME VERY QUICKLY.

I'M NOT LATINO MYSELF.

I'M IRISH AND POLISH.

IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT EMBRACING THE LATIN CULTURE BUT IT'S ABOUT BRINGING YOUR OWN CULTURE IN AND EMBRACING THAT AS WELL.

AN EXCITING PART OF BEING A DANCER IS GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE THESE DIFFERENT VOICES.

IF YOU LOOK AT OUR DANCERS, THEY'RE SO DIVERSE.

THAT DIVERSITY COUPLED WITH THE CHOREOGRAPHER, COUPLED WITH THE MISSION ALL TOGETHER, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO RICH.

EVERY CHOREOGRAPHER THAT COMES HERE TO MAKE A PIECE GETS THAT CONVERSATION WITH ME ABOUT CULTURE.

AND THEY DIVERT DIFFERENTLY.

WE HAVE RUN THE RANGE FROM MY WORK THAT IS FULL OF LATINO CARIBBEAN MOVEMENT TO RON K.

BROWN THAT IS MUCH MORE AFRO-CENTRIC, TO DANIEL PARASALA WHICH IS ABSTRACT.

SO IT'S VERY RICH FOR US.

BECAUSE IT REALLY SHOWS US THE DEPTH OF HOW CULTURE AFFECTS EACH ARTIST.

MICHELLE'S PIECE IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE.

IT'S JUST A DREAM COME TRUE FOR ME.

THE WORK IS ABOUT TELLING THE STORY OF WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LIVE BETWEEN TWO CULTURES.

FOR ME AS A MEXICAN AMERICAN PERSON GROWING UP IN TEXAS, IT ALLOWED FOR ME TO SORT OF REFLECT ON THAT AND THEN BRING THIS PIECE TO LIFE FROM THOSE EXPERIENCES.

THE MUSIC RANGES.

IT'S VERY ECLECTIC WHICH IS HOW I FEEL.

I'M NOT ONE THING.

I'M NOT JUST MARIACHI MUSIC AND POP MUSIC OF THE '80s.

I'M SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN.

THE SOMBRERO IS A FULL THING TO EXPLORE.

THE SORT OF CULTURAL STEREOTYPES BUT THEN DECONSTRUCTING IT, MANIPULATING IT AND USING THE HAT AS A SYMBOL.

SHE USES HER EARLY STAGES OF VULNERABILITY AS A YOUNG DANCER, AS A YOUNG CHOREOGRAPHER AND SLOWLY IT EVOLVES TO SHOW HOW HER INSECURITIES BLOOM INTO ACCEPTANCE.

AND ADMIRATION FOR HER CULTURE.

CURRENTLY, WE ARE WORKING WITH A NEW CHOREOGRAPHER, A SPANIARD.

HIS INSPIRATION FOR THE PIECE IS A VERY FAMOUS SPANISH PLAY.

MY NEW WORK IS NOT A TRAGEDY.

I CAME ACROSS A MEXICAN SOAP OPERA VERSION.

I WAS ATTRACTED TO THIS OVER THE TOP SATURATED VERSION OF IT.

MORE DRAMA.

ALWAYS MORE DRAMA.

I'M TRYING TO MAKE IT ENTERTAINING BUT ALSO MAKES YOU THINK.

NOT SO INTERESTED IN RETELLING THE NARRATIVE ITSELF.

I'M MUCH MORE INTERESTED IN THE SITUATION OF THE DAUGHTERS AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TENSION AND REPRESSION THAT THEY EXPERIENCE LOCKED UP IN THIS HOUSE BY THE MATRIARCHAL POWER.

I HAVE A CAST OF 13 SISTERS.

THE MEN ARE PLAYING SISTERS.

I'M INTERESTED IN SEEING HOW HAVING THE MEN IN FEMALE CHARACTERS MIGHT COMMENT ON THE IMPOSITION OF GENDER.

WITH DEVELOPING THE CHOREOGRAPHER, IT'S MORE HE WILL GIVE US A PHRASE OF MOVEMENT.

AND THEN HE WILL GIVE TASKS TO DO.

NICK IS GOING TO BREAK THROUGH.

FROM THAT MAIN PHRASE IT CREATES ALL THESE LITTLE SECONDS WITH IT.

IT CAN BE QUITE UGLY.

YOU'VE GIVEN UP ON FORM, YOU'VE GIVEN UP ON BEAUTY.

I WOULDN'T SAY IT'S THE MOVEMENT THAT COMES NATURALLY TO ME.

BUT WHEN I GIVE MYSELF OVER TO IT, I FEEL THAT I ENJOY IT GREATLY.

AND I'M STARTING TO SEE HOW THE PIECE IS EVOLVING.

WE'RE NOT ONLY DANCERS.

WE'RE ARTISTS.

BUT WE'RE ALSO TEACHING ARTISTS.

ONE OF THE GREAT MISSIONS IS TO GO OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY AND TEACH WORKSHOPS AND ENGAGE CHILDREN AND ADULTS, ALL AGES.

WHEN WE DO WORK IN THE COMMUNITY, IT'S ABOUT SAYING THIS ART FORM IS YOURS.

EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT LATINO.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO LEARN TO SPEAK SPANISH.

YOU LEARN TO MOVE ANOTHER LANGUAGE THAT BREAKS BARRIERS OF COLOR AND SOCIAL STATUS AND WHEN YOU GRAB SOMEONE'S HAND AND YOU LEAD THEM ONTO THE DANCE FLOOR, EVEN THE PERSON THAT'S MOST INHIBITED LET'S GO JUST A LITTLE BIT.

IF WE CAN FIND THOSE POCKETS OF LETTING GO AND OPEN THEM EVEN MORE, THAT'S WHAT BALLET HISPANICO IS ALL ABOUT RIGHT NOW.