Forget flowers. And don’t bother with candy. What most mothers want on their special day is to be taken someplace special. This weekend you couldn’t do better than the Washington Ballet’s seasonal finale at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater through Sunday. ¡Noche Latina! is more than a typical dance program – it’s a fiesta with three new South American-inspired works, a musical interlude by Toto la Momposina y Sus Tambores, and some hot, sultry dancing.
Artistic Director Septime Webre’s heart and soul are Latin, and it was obvious to all that he loved putting on this show. He beamed when describing the premieres at the Wednesday evening program, the last in the 2011-12 Washington Ballet series. Webre, dubbed Septime because he was the seventh of nine children born to his Cuban parents, draws from his Latino background while encouraging his company dancers to move freely, with sexy exuberance and panache. Dancer Luis R. Torres, dressed in bull fighting red, first captures the spirit of Latina Noche as the “Breathing Soul” character in Sueno de Marmol, a rapturous dream that bends and billows and soars as a moving fantasy by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Later, the Puerto Rican native smolders in La Ofrenda, created by Edwaard Liang to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” In the middle of the dance, Torres climbs through the striking scenic design by Cristobal Gabarron, his pecs pushing through the his white satin jumpsuit, designed by Christine Darch for the sultry duet with Maki Onuki. Be still my heart!
La Ofrenda (The Offering) showcases the entire company, all dressed in traditional Spanish costumes, red and black for the living, white for the dead and reminds of us of Francisco Goya painting come alive. During the sensuous pas de demux – set to haunting music – Lila Downs, Brooklyn Mack and Sona Kharatian entwine themselves, then throw caution to the wind and soar like spirits returning to heaven.
Like a Samba, Trey McIntyre’s contribution to the program, mixes classical ballet with a number of contemporary movement idioms. The dancers pulled off clever arm punching, twitches and a flutter of gestural movements to the music of Astrud Gilberto. Nonetheless, it just didn’t have the same passion as the ballets before and after, yet certainly was fun for the athletic guys in the company. I wonder why Webre did not include his own Juanita y Alicia, a glimpse of Havana in the 1930s drawn from stories of his mother’s family. Now that would have added more sass to this Latina Noche! Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, although the Wednesday night show lasted over two hours with extra music and curtain calls. ¡Noche Latina! continues on Friday, May 11, at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 12, at 2:30 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 12, at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call The Kennedy Center box office (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online. For information on all Washington Ballet events, call (202) 362-3606, or visit their website.