By Natasha Anderson
Ballet Hispánico comes to Diana Wortham Theatre (DWT) for a three-day cultural residency from Monday, April 8, through Wednesday, April 10. The company will perform three shows—two for the Mainstage on April 9 and 10, at 8 p.m. and one for the Matinee series for students and families on April 10, at 10 a.m. Additionally, several workshops and community activities will be led by Ballet Hispánico artistic director Eduardo Vilaro and members of the dance troupe during their stay.
“Whenever possible, we coordinate ancillary events to provide new ways to enjoy and appreciate world-class artists outside of a traditional performance setting,” says DWT community engagement director Jared McEntire. “We often hold these supplementary events on site, but also love to take artists into schools, community centers and studios.”
Each Ballet Hispánico performance includes three works: Catorce Dieciséis, a theatrical and breathtaking piece that draws inspiration from the number Pi to reflect on the circularity of our movement through life; Línea Recta, a powerful and resonant work that explores the conspicuous absence of physical partnering in flamenco dance; and Con Brazos Abiertos, which illustrates choreographer Michelle Manzanales’ experience growing up Mexican-American and explores her dual-cultured existence with humility, nostalgia and humor.
“Con Brazos Abiertos is a telling of experiences around never quite feeling like you fit in, something I think we can all relate to on some level,” says Manzanales. “I hope my dance allows people to connect to their emotions, unplug from the outside world and perhaps experience joy and laughter, or better yet, to ask questions.”
Conversations about cultural identity and the troupe’s expression through dance will take place during the company’s residency in the form of a discussion led by Vilaro ahead of each performance and a conversation with the company and local leaders titled Being Mexican-American. Other activities include a Latin Social Dance class and party, and special performances and workshops for local students.
“Conversations about identity and culture need multi-level approaches because stereotypes and iconic representations are sewn into our social fabric, making it difficult to offer authentic perspectives,” says Vilaro. “By conducting these events, we offer a diverse look at Mexican-American culture and give the artists a platform to express their culture in their terms.”
Diana Wortham Theatre is located at 18 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Tickets are $20–$48 for Mainstage performances, $10 for Matinee. To purchase tickets or learn more about Ballet Hispánico’s community outreach events, visit DWTheatre.com or call 828.257.4530.