REVIEW: Orlando Ballet Performed a Fun and Charismatic “Bailamos!”

The beautiful Walt Disney Theatre at the Dr Phillips Center right at Central Orlando, FL opened the doors to a wide audience to present Orlando Ballet’s “Bailamos!” Translating to “Let’s Dance” or “We dance” from Spanish.

Artistic Director Robert Hill presented a collection of eleven pieces with Latin flavour, with ten of those of his creation.

The afternoon began with Arturo Marquez’ exciting “Danzón #2″. The dancers, dressed in black and red, set up a building mood that would go for the rest of the piece. The formed geometrical patterns coming to the stage, with steps that not only went to the melody of the music, but also to the hidden beats.

The best sections saw all the dancers together on stage, and although they could be a bit more together, those were the ones the audience seemed to enjoy the most. The lead dancer, Hitomi Nakamura, displayed charisma which she maintained during the whole afternoon. Her two partners, Andre Gallon and Boris Ceballos, made sure she was well partnered.

Next on the list was a suite from Don Quixote, mixing variations (solos) from the first and third acts of the ballet. Jiho Won started the suite with the first Bridesmaids variation, finishing with Hitomi Nakamura and Nick Patterson performing Kitri and Basilio’s wedding coda. No pas de deux were involved, however, the dancers gave the audience a taste of classical ballet in between neoclassical and more contemporary-based choreographies, showing a varied number of young and mature classical technique.

Photo credit: Michael Cairns. Orlando Ballet dancers interpreting “Cucurrucucu Paloma” by Robert Hill.

Up next a well-known song by the Latin American community followed asCucurrucucu Paloma sounded as Nick Patterson came on the stage. This short pas de deux was dramatic, melancholic, showing the male character’s frustration for not having the love of his life. Anamarie McGinn made an ethereal white dove spirit, making the steps delicate as the beautiful voice of Gaetano Veloso sounded.

The first act continued with a more contemporary piece telling the story of three siblings: two boys, one girl. Mexican singer Chavela Vargas’ voice sounded with “Ojalá”, thus the name of the choreography (translating to “Hopefully”).

The song was cut into sections for the dancers to tell a frustrating, dramatic plot from the characters. The costumes were simple, all in a light brown: the male dancers (Daniel Benavides and Boris Ceballos) were in shorts, while Ms Nakamura in a beautiful dress to below her knees.

The three siblings utilized the space well, interacting with the furniture that was around the stage. It was probably one of the longest pieces in the program, however, I loved the dramatic presence of the dancers, as well as the excellent partnering by the male dancers.

The production crew set the mood to take the audience to a room in Sevilla, Spain. Passionate, seductive and vigorous, Carmen is a ballet anyone can enjoy. Orlando Ballet prepared the seductive pas de deux with Carmen and Escamillo, with Jinho Won and Boris Ceballos.

Ms Won shoed her long legs as the Carmen costumed fitted her perfectly, while Mr Ceballos showed his Latin American personality portraying Escamillo. The pas de deux has complicated lifts and transitions, but Mr Ceballos managed them perfectly. The audience finished with a humble giggle when the dancers finished the piece at the bed, with a blackout.

Photo Credit: Michael Cairns. Orlando Ballet’s Jihno Won interpreting “Carmen” by Robert Hill.

Act I finished with a piece called Huapango”, a moving choreography with eight dancers set with music by Pablo Moncayo. The costumes were similar to Danzón #2 in terms of design, but instead, they were red and white.

Ms Blair Bagley showed her technique and artistry throughout the ballet, and it was clear that the audience did not take the eyes off of her as they gave her a grateful round of applause. The corp de ballet moved smoothly throughout the stage, showing more and Mr Hill’s style of moving the dancers on the stage.

Intermission was followed by a fun piece by the whole company. Le Café showed the women with black and white dresses with a 20s-30s style, while de men wore hats and suspenders. This short piece was set, a café with tables in the back was a great interaction between both the dancers and the audience. The fun music by Caravan Palace created a European café mood, and the dancers finished with yelling “Nick!” showing their characters annoyed by Nick Patterson’s character in the ballet.

Next piece was “Ay Milonga”, a pas de deux with a tango style. Wearing all black, Anita Boer and Andre Gallon showed a strong but flowing duet that kept the audience entertained. The music, although it had a tango inspiration, it also had strong beats, and the dancers could show accents and sharp movements while maintaining the flavour.

Right after, Ms Hitomi Nakamura showed change to yet another tutu, turned around the afternoon to classical ballet again and performed a clean and sharp variation from La Esmeralda.

Photo Credit: Michael Cairns. Orlando Ballet dancers interpreting “Bolero” by Robert Hill.

Marice Ravel’s crescendo Bolero began as both the company, apprentices and members of Orlando Ballet II entered the stage in circular patterns. The costumes were made out of black and white lace. Even though we would have preferred for the colours to form and play with interest patterns, the geometric figures Mr Hill created for this 16-minute piece.

Some of the female and male dancers were highlighted having a principal position in the piece, however, the audience could see the participation of all the dancers, filling every corner of the step. The piece ended with unison steps by the full cast, with Ravel’s last shivering musical notes. After the bows, the dancers performed an unexpected, fun salsa number that put the cherry on top.

Orlando Ballet definitely makes an impact on their audience with this collection of unique pieces that had a great deal of entertainment. Plus, the audience could see the great variety of dancers on stage at the same time, showing their different nationalities, techniques, styles and personalities, all coming together to celebrate the fun and charismatic Latin flavours.

Photo Credit: Michael Cairns. Orlando Ballet dancers during their Salsa ending piece.