Ballet Hispánico Celebrates 50 Years of Building on its Distinctive Resilience

Ballet BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of npr.org

Amid a pandemic that challenges the bravest character, Ballet Hispanico decided to move forward, with the resilience that has kept them on the stage for fifty years.

Founded in 1970 by Tina Ramirez, a New Yorker of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, who was born in Venezuela, Ballet Hispánico is a U.S. institution, a pillar in the construction of spaces for dialogue and cultural platforms for immigrant communities in the country.

According to NPR, when New York went on COVID-19 lockdown, the company’s artistic director, Eduardo Vilaro, knew where to start looking for solutions.

“I went into my immigrant mode,” Vilaro told the media. “How do you survive? What do we have to do?”

It was then that Ballet Hispanico introduced a whole host of online programming called #BUnidos Be United Latino Pride Mondays, Salsa Tuesdays, Wepa Wednesdays, Tiki-Tiki Thursdays, and Fiesta Fridays.

Survival is in the blood of Latinos.

Ramirez’s vision was to give access and to show artists beyond the stereotypes …” he explains, “Her heart has always been to give Hispanic and Latinx people the place they deserve in the American landscape.”

In its five decades, the company has performed for more than two million people, in the United States, Europe, and South America, with a repertoire of more than 75 works.

In the early 1980s, Ballet Hispánico purchased two garages adjacent to the former Claremont Riding Academy building on West 89th Street, considered historic sites in New York City.

The structures were built to designs by architect Frank A. Rooke in 1892. With architects Buck/Cane, Ballet Hispanico converted the two carriage houses into its headquarters in 1989.

Since 2009, under Vilaro’s artistic direction, the company has created fertile ground for future Latino leaders in the country.

“I’m interested in exploring the intersectionality of our diaspora…” Vilaro told NPR. “What is Latinx? And who are we? I’m much more interested in having the art catapult us into dialogues.

Among a powerful dance repertoire, workshops, educational programs, and a surrounding community, Ballet Hispanico’s dancers “are ambassadors of the culture,” Vilaro added. 

With information from NPR.