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Ballet Hispanico.

In the past quarter-century Tina Ramirez has built a solid ensemble company in Ballet Hispanico, which blends contemporary American dance and Hispanic culture. The company looked ahead to its next twenty-five years with a season featuring three new works.

What the program refers to as the "strange environment, a neutral territory," of Spanish choreographer Maria Rovira's Tierra de Nadie ("No Man's Land") is a landscape of anguished relationships. The dance's strongest imagery is a cluster of women who face forward but move sideways across the stage, flicking their skirts as they go. Dancers who dangle in backbends, arms akimbo, like gawky birds, are deliberately unsettling, but the motif of a woman who suddenly jumps into a man's arms, ending face to face, at first arresting, is, by the dance's end, overused and repetitive.

David Rousseve's When Dreams Explode has as a sound track texts of people talking about their hopes and struggles in countries other than their own. It begins with the narrative of a scrubwoman ("School for my child was my greatest dream") and ends with the conclusion of her child's story ("Manuel was killed one week before he started school by a stray bullet"). The text, dramatic but all too real in inner-city life, almost overshadows the dance, the strongest section of which is done within a circle of chairs: a man (Pedro Ruiz) stands on a chair and plays the castanets while a woman dances. But the section of four couples dancing together is weakened by its lack of counterpoint.

In addition to the text, Dreams has music by Selena, whose own life provides the subject matter for Ballet Hispanico's splashiest new work, Idol Obsession. The dance, by George Faison, its title a wordplay on "idle obsession," is a narrative rendering of the recent headline-grabbing tale of an employee (and fan gone wrong) who murdered the rising pop star. The Moor's Pavane it is not, in its sense of form or artfulness, but it moves along with lively performances by Emanuela Lattanzi as the glamorous, ill-fated singer and the versatile Veronica Ruiz as the murderess, Yolanda. The action is played out in scenes that range from Selena's flashy entertaining of a cadre of Texas cowboys to the boutique where Yolanda works--symbolized by a rack of clothing, where the singer sexily slips into and out of various garments as Yolanda looks on longingly. Interesting in formal terms are the two guides to the story, illustrative of the sacred and the profane: Our Lady of Guadalupe (the statuesque Alessandra Corona, in blue with a gold halo) and La Muerte/The Promoter (Pedro Ruiz), a caped figure in a black costume with ribs, a cross between a Halloween skeleton and von Rothbart. The latter is a comment not only on the deadly position music promoters sometimes play in Western society, but also on the power, and the at times fatal emotions, that pop stars often engender and attract.
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Title Annotation:Joyce Theater, New York, New York
Author:Smith, Amanda
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Mar 1, 1997
Words:488
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