Latin Roots

By Margaret Regan

LAST NOVEMBER, DAVID Roussève filled Centennial Hall with his searing Love Songs. A jolting mix of theatre, storytelling and modern dance, the evening-length work dealt with the ravages of slavery, even many generations after the fact.

Anyone who missed this signal dance event has a chance this weekend to see a different Roussève piece, though admittedly a much smaller one. New York's Ballet Hispanico, a leading modern dance troupe in town for one concert only, will perform Roussève's "Somethin' from Nothin'." Roussève set the work to new music by Latin artist Eddie Palmieri, in keeping with Ballet Hispanico's mission of celebrating Hispanic culture. "Somethin' " debuted just last month in New York, where it won from New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff such choice encomiums as "exuberant and elegant--vibrant and virtuosic--a showpiece for stylized salsa."

The company, founded in 1970, also commissioned a new dance work from Brazilian choreographer Regina Miranda. Her "Avenida Brazil" is performed to the music of Damàso Cerruti and Vinicius Brazil. A third piece, "Bury Me Standing," was composed in 1988 by Spanish choreographer Ramón Oller. The music is traditional Gypsy.

Founder and artistic director Tina Ramirez shaped her exuberant dancers into practitioners of an interesting dance blend of ballet, modern, jazz and traditional forms. Like Roussève, who meshes mainstream arts like opera with his African-American aesthetic, Ramirez delves into the larger culture while taking care to maintain the troupe's Hispanic bent. For instance, the company commissions works from leading modern choreographers, while emphasizing Latin composers. Last seen in Tucson three years ago, the company returns to Centennial Hall under the auspices of UApresents.

     




Ballet Hispanico performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 22, at UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets are $16, $22 and $28, with discounts of 50 percent for students and children, and 20 percent for UA faculty and staff. For tickets and information, call the Centennial Hall box office at 621-3341.

Professor Melissa Lowe of the UA Dance Division will give a free talk on modern dance 45-minutes prior to the performance at 7:15 p.m. in Room 102 of the Center for English as a Second Language, 1100 E. North Campus Drive, just north of Centennial Hall.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 20, Ballet Hispanico artistic director Tina Ramirez offers a free public discussion of "Unlocking the Creative Process." Hosted by Ken Foster of UApresents, the talk will be held in Room 102 of the Center for English as a Second Language.


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