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Greg Burnett, The Plain Dealer  |  November 02, 2018

Ballet Hispanico to dazzle, entertain and teach next weekend in Cleveland

Ballet Hispanico was founded in 1970 in New York City by Tina Ramirez, because she saw an artistic gap for people of color, specifically Latino performers.

It's now considered one of the premier Latino dance organizations in the country.

"It seemed servants were the only available roles for people of color," said Eduardo Vilaro, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Hispanico, by phone from New York. "Fifty years down the line, we are still struggling. Although it's better," Vilaro said. "This organization has always been an advocate for people of color and the need to have advocacy in our world."

The troupe will dance its way into Cleveland Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10 and 11, at Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre. The shows are being co-presented by Cuyahoga Community College and DanceCleveland.

Vilaro, 54, started dancing with the group back in the 1980s under the tutelage of Ramirez. Since 2009, he's led the organization and is the only one to have held that position other than Ramirez.

Ballet Hispanico hasn't rested on its laurels. The troupe has 700 students a year enrolling in its New York City program that nurtures young artists, most of them through scholarships. The program has been expanded to other cities such as Houston and Los Angeles.

Vilaro hopes to expand to more places. "We serve our community by giving access," said Vilaro.

"Since our organization is based in New York, we offer more programs here. We also work with the New York City schools' artistic programs. We teach dance and social appreciation."

Since the dancers in the group are also trained teachers, they often, when on tour, scout out dance workshops and residencies in the community to form partnerships. It's really how things started as a repertory company that spoke about the Latino community, Vilaro said.

It looks as if Northeast Ohio will benefit as well. Dancers will spread throughout the community visiting the dance programs at colleges and universities including Cleveland State University, Kent State University and Cuyahoga Community College on Friday, Nov. 9.

Vilaro promises Playhouse Square audiences will be entertained by music that goes from Latino to classical. That will be accompanied by powerful yet fun performances that look at what all immigrants among us go through.

A lot of the choreography is done by women. Each show includes moderated pre- and post-show talks with performers and producers. The Sunday matinee will also feature family activities before the show.

Ballet Hispanico

What: The New York City company has a two-day stand in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College and DanceCleveland.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10; 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

Where: Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland.

Tickets: $25-$45 at or by calling 216-241-6000.


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