Ballet Hispánico takes center stage in Spring 2023 with William Forsythe’s iconic ballet pas de deux “New Sleep” at New York City Center.
William Forsythe’s “New Sleep”
William Forsythe is an iconic New York contemporary dance choreographer known for his work with Ballet Frankfurt and The Forsythe Company. @william_forsythe_🗽
“New Sleep” is a duet danced in a tribute to Tina Ramirez. This is sure to be an emotional moment. And being Latin, we’re certain, Tina will be very present in spirit.
This is a famous work in the contemporary ballet canon. It was premiered by the San Francisco Ballet, one of America’s premiere ballet companies, in 1987.
The choreography features two dancers moving in diagonals and crossing in the middle. Like a Mondrian painting, it has the very architecture of New York City in it.
Ballet Hispanico’s version is filled with layers of meaning.
This choreographic addition to the Ballet Hispánico repertoire may be a subtle commentary on the term “Latinx” which originally referred to gender fluidity. Its meaning has evolved into an umbrella term for Americans with a Latin heritage. We come from many backgrounds, but are generating our own gravity as Americans.
In the Ballet Hispánico context, this work may also represent the way Latins have to flow between two cultures that are often antagonistic towards one another. It’s tricky, but when done well, it’s the most beautiful thing to watch.
You cannot dance this piece casually. Forsythe has a precision in his choreography, but is also very sensual, with a sly playfulness in his work.
This is the essential character of a New Yorker. You have to work so hard and fast that you become very precise and efficient. You can’t be just good, you have to be great. Ballet Hispánico’s version of the dance is flavored with natural Latin sensuality and that little bit of crazy you need to make it here.
With this piece, Ballet Hispánico is saying that we have arrived and can dance contemporary ballet as well as anyone.
The Crossroads of the World
Forsythe probably didn’t have this in mind, but the cross can also be interpreted as the dikenga cross in the Yowa, the Kongo cosmological diagram. Kongo is one of the three African Diaspora cultural complexes that rooted in the Americas. Being Latin, we are various blends of Indigenous, European, and African peoples and culture (Arab & Asian too).
The intersection represents the self in life’s journey. Your best self is a balance of all the energies around you. It also represents the community where we come together. In the Dominican Republic, the community dance circle called the “batey” in Puerto Rico and the “solar” in Cuba, is literally called “la cruz” (the cross).
This piece is 57th St at Fifth Avenue during the Manhattanhenge solar alignment, or Times Square, “the crossroads of the world.”
When You Sleep is When You Dream
Today, the work’s title “New Sleep” might suggest that we should put to sleep the tensions that are blowing up our heads these days, stretch out, trust, and move together ~ because it’s the only way we can achieve our highest selves.
Or maybe “New Sleep” means that now is the time for Latin dancers to dream big, like Ballet Hispánico founder Tina Ramirez did once upon a time in New York City.
Bet you just saw a contemporary dance, but this is Ballet Hispánico. Sweet dreams!
Ballet Hispánico New York City Center Spring 2023
Ballet Hispánico Spring 2023 dances “New Sleep,” an iconic Forsythe ballet pas de deux; new commissions: “Sor Juana” by Michelle Manzanales and “Papagayos” by Omar Román de Jesús; and a company classic “Club Havana” by Pedro Ruiz; at New York City Center in Midtown, Manhattan; Thursday-Saturday, June 1-3, 2023. From $35. nycitycenter.org 🇨🇺 🇲🇽 🇵🇷 🇻🇪
The opening night Legacy Gala honors The Miranda Family at The Plaza Hotel with dancing to the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. 🇵🇷