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Ballet Hispanico: NightClub

Presented by and at New York University's Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South), NYC, Nov. 11-16.

A new theatre, beautifully scaled with perfect sightlines and a built-in elegance, has opened in Greenwich Village. The Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, on the New York University campus, offered Tina Ramirez's company, Ballet Hispanico, in a full-length piece called "NightClub," which included works of three choreographers: Graciela Daniele, Alexandre Magno, and Sergio Trujillo, held together with brief monologues narrated by Julio Monge. Taken as a whole, the program had an overabundance of swinging hips, high kicks, and slinky torsos. Perhaps that was necessary in melding Latin American style, sad stories about unrequited love, and ballet. But the music, the dry-ice smoke, the vividly colored costumes, the steamy lighting designed to accentuate the shimmying bodies were all too obvious. What was truly necessary was "hot" dancing, and the women of Ballet Hispanico (aside from the elegant Irene Hogarth), if nothing else, should have been sexy. Strangely, this company of women, especially Sarah Skogland, who was given featured roles, was not.

Daniele's "Cada Noche…Tango" was the first of her three works for Ballet Hispanico. It is set in a seedy nightclub full of knife-wielding guys and prostitutes. There are high moments of choreography, particularly for the menacing men, with fedoras tipped forward, toes tapping in back, and heels pounding in a hint of flamenco. In particular, Pedro Ruiz leads the company in a spirited manner.

Magno's middle section, "Dejame Soñar" ("Let Me Dream"), was a mess, an MTV special that did not succeed on the stage. Here Hogarth holds her head high, but the rest of the cast simply shuffled around, halfheartedly infusing energy into boring L.A. choreography.

Trujillo, in "Hoy Como Ayer" ("Today Like Yesterday"), his first ballet, showed the seeds of structure. One felt that were he unhampered by the theme of "NightClub," he would have choreographed a piece with more intrinsic value. As it was, with all the choreographers working in the club atmosphere, the theme given to them had serious limitations.

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