Seton Hall hosts high-profile ballet company SOPAC show

The Seton Hall University Arts Council and the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute are bringing the celebrated Latino dancers of Ballet Hispanico to the South Orange Performing Arts Center. The performance will feature four dances performed by the company’s 13 dancers.

Artistic Director for Ballet Hispanico, Eduardo Vilaro, is excited for the performance.

“We’re very excited to have this opportunity to perform at SOPAC, especially with the participation of Seton Hall,” he said.
Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Director of the Arts Council Susan Kilduff shares Vilaro’s enthusiasm.

“This is a very exciting thing for the university to host,” she said. “I don’t know if people realize how big this is. Ballet Hispanico is very high-profile.”

When asked what to expect from the performance Vilaro said, “I don’t like to tell people to look for things (in a performance). I would rather you open yourself up and join in the process. But certainly look at the intensity and athleticism in the movement of the dancers, and the colors in the music.”

The dances featured will be “Triptico” choreographed by Ron De Jesus, “Locked Up Laura” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, “Naci” by Andrea Miller and “Club Havana” by Pedro Ruiz. Each dance will show how each individual choreographer wanted to explore their Latino heritage and culture.

“We want to be descriptive, and to come into a dialogue of what is Latin-American,” Vilaro said. “Latinos come to America and hold on to their culture. We want to rekindle that cultural identity, and see how these cultures have fused, combined and sometimes been forgotten.”

There is a mixture of Arabic, Spanish, and Jewish influence in the contemporary numbers, according to Vilaro. The dancing styles range from en pointe to heels.

“The dances go from the sultriness of a Latino ballroom to the raw and guttural passion presented in the Hispanic Diaspora,” Vilaro said.
Kilduff hopes that university students attending will be able to learn more about Latino culture. Vilaro will present to the audience with Dr. Julian Zugazagoitia, executive director of El Museo del Barrio in New York City. Vilaro describes the performance as a cultural exploration.

“Instead of just portraying the passionate and – I’m sorry – sometimes stereotypical dances of Latino culture, we want to open up a discussion,” he said. “In the 1970’s, there was a definite stereotype for Latinos. They felt they had to prove that they were important. Now we know we’re important. We’ve given very much to this American culture, and we still give today, and that is always reflected in our art form.”

Vilaro is passionate about the educational aspect of the performance.

“Reflect on what spoke to you (in the performance), and find a point of reference for yourself,” he said. “And if you can’t, then come talk to me!”

Of the performers, Vilaro says that he and the dancers have become “like a little family.”

“They work intimately and intensely,” he said. “They are all very professional and they are wonderful technicians who understand what they need to do.”

Vilaro is closely connected with Ballet Hispanico himself, having been a principal dancer with the company for a time in the late 80’s, under the ballet’s founder, Tina Ramirez. He then went on to pursue his M.A. at Columbia College in Chicago, and served as Artist-in-Residence at The Dance Center. He has spent the past decade creating and directing the Chicago-based dance company Luna Negra, and in August 2009, he returned to Ballet Hispanico as Artistic Director.

“I’ve come full circle certainly,” he said.

The performance will be held at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for Seton Hall students, faculty and staff (must present ID), $15 for senior citizens, and $35 or $25 for the general public.

Erin Bell can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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