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The Sizzling Hot Ballet Hispanico Returns with the 20-Member, Grammy Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Media Contact:
Christine Minero Rigamer
Gambel Communications

The Sizzling Hot Ballet Hispanico Returns with the 20-Member,
Grammy Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

NEW ORLEANS, LA - The New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA) heats up a winter's night when the gorgeous Ballet Hispanico (BH) teams up with the 20-member, Grammy Award-winning Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for an evening of Latin music and dance at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 pm. Celebrated as "hands down the leading Hispanic-American dance company" (Buenos Aires Herald), and led by Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, the company brings a program filled with the infectious rhythms of Cuban, jazz and big-band music and the stylish Latin social dances of Mambo, Rumba, Salsa, Cha-cha. The result is a fiery evening that "makes you want to get up and dance" (The New York Times).

The evening's program is comprised of three high-octane works, including Tito on Timbale, a tribute to the music of master percussionist Tito Puente. Choreographed by William Whitener, the work captures the joy and intricacies of social dance through cascading patterns and sensual partnering. The intoxicating finale Club Havana, created by Cuban choreographer Pedro Ruiz, is pure Latin dancing at its best with all of the mystique of a sultry nightclub in Old Havana. Both works feature the celebrated Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra led by artistic director Arturo O'Farrill.  The centerpiece of the evening, Asuka, was created by Vilaro and honors the life of the legendary Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz.

Tickets ranging from $20-$80 may be purchased through the New Orleans Ballet Association Box Office at (504) 522-0996, online at or through TicketMaster at 800-745-3000 or Discounts are available for students, seniors, and groups. All audience members are invited to join Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro at 6:45 pm upstairs in the Mezzanine, Level M2, of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for a pre-performance talk

Ballet Hispanico In the Community
The long standing relationship between NOBA and Ballet Hispanico dates back to its first local sold out presentation in 1992. Since then, over 12,000 people in the region have explored the Latino diaspora through activities in the schools and neighborhood centers, and on the stage. For the past two years, BH has inspired a passion for learning and excellence through their work with youth of the NORDC/NOBA Center For Dance during the Summer Intensives. Building on this success, students this fall through the Chevron Master Artist Series had the rare opportunity to audition and to rehearse repertory that will be performed alongside the Ballet Hispanico dancers during the one-hour, bilingual performances for families. These special family performances are free and open to the public and will take place Wednesday, December 5, 6:30pm at Bonnabel Magnet Academy High School gymnasium, 2801 Bruin Drive, Kenner and Thursday, December 6, 6:30 pm at Delgado Community College gymnasium, 615 City Park Avenue, New Orleans. The program will take the audience on an exploration of Latin American and Caribbean dance forms and music through a narrated performance. In addition, the company will conduct bilingual workshops Wednesday, Dec. 5 through Friday, December 7 in schools in Jefferson, St. Bernard and Orleans parishes. BH will also conduct a master class on Saturday, December 8 from 10:30 am - 12 pm for students of the NORDC/NOBA Center For Dance and Tulane University.  For more information, call NOBA at 504-522-0996.


Latin Dance Party
Following the Main Stage performance on Saturday, December 8, NOBA's Ballet Resource And Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) will host a Latin Dance Party in the lobby of the Pan American Life Center at 601 Poydras Street beginning at 9:30 p.m.  The dancers of Ballet Hispanico will join patrons to dance the night away to the infectious rhythms of an ensemble of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. Tickets are $60 and include open bar, Latin-inspired buffet and complimentary parking in the Pan American Life Center garage. Tickets are available by calling NOBA at 504-522-0996.

About Ballet Hispanico
Celebrating 42 years of dance and culture, Ballet Hispanico is recognized as the nation's premier Latino dance organization. Led by Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, the company boasts a rich and diverse repertory of over 100 works by the foremost choreographers and emerging artists of our time. The works expand on founder Tina Ramirez's legacy of exploring the diversity of Latino culture through a fusion of classical, Latin, and Ballet Hispanico's School of Dance offers a unique curriculum based on Spanish dance forms, classical ballet, and contemporary dance.  The school offers rigorous pre-professional training, general program, and unique classes for pre-schoolers and adults. It has trained more than 8,000 children who have gone on to successful careers in dance, theater, film, education, and many other professions.

Education & Outreach offers an innovative exploratory learning experience for school children, teachers, and parents. The in-school version of the program offers long-term teaching artist residencies and has touched the lives of some 20,000 New York City school children. The junior or "second" company, BHdos, tours each year to university campuses, businesses and community centers with significant educational components. The Outreach touring program includes teacher training sessions, classroom workshops and master classes with Company members, and has brought the joy of Latino dance traditions to countless thousands across the country.

About Eduardo Vilaro, Artistic Director, Ballet Hispanico
Eduardo Vilaro joined Ballet Hispanico as Artistic Director in August 2009, following a ten-year record of achievement as Founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. He has been part of the Ballet Hispanico family since 1985. As a dancer in the Ballet Hispanico Company, Vilaro performed works by Vicente Nebrada, Talley Beatty, Ramon Oller, and other audience favorites. As an educator he assisted Ballet Hispanico founder Tina Ramirez in developing a program for children living in temporary housing and was involved with many aspects of the organization's education residencies. Vilaro is an accomplished choreographer, having created more than 20 ballets for his own company in addition to the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Lexington Ballet, and the Civic Ballet of Chicago. He has worked in collaboration with major dance and design artists as well as musicians like Paquito D'Rivera, Susana Baca, Luciana Souza, the Grant Park Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, he was a recipient of a Ruth Page Award for choreography, and in 2003, he was honored at Panama's II International Festival of Ballet for his choreographic work.

Vilaro came to New York City at the age of 6 from his native Cuba. He began his dance training as a teenager on scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and also studied at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. He received a BFA in dance from Adelphi University and an MA in interdisciplinary art from Columbia College Chicago, where he served as Artist-in-Residence at The Dance Center. He was selected as Chicagoan of the Year in 2007 and Alumni of the Year by Columbia College in 2008.

About Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Founded in 2002 by Arturo O'Farrill to perform the full repertory of Afro Latin jazz and commission new works to advance this culturally rich genre, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra was a resident orchestra at Jazz at Lincoln Center from 2002 to 2007. In 2007, the ALJO left Lincoln Center to pursue the twin goals of developing new audiences for Afro Latin jazz and of creating a robust educational program for young people. O'Farrill founded the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance that same year to pursue both the performance and educational aspects of this uniquely pan-American art form. The ALJO is currently in its sixth season in residence at Symphony Space on Manhattan's Upper West Side, and it continues to tour nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. The ALJO received a Grammy® nomination for its 2005 album, Una Noche Inolvidable (Palmetto), and in 2009 earned a Grammy® for Best Latin Jazz Album for its release Song for Chico (Zoho). The Orchestra's most recent album, 40 Acres and a Burro (Zoho), received a 2012 Grammy® nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

About Arturo O'Farrill, Founder, Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Arturo O'Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and founder of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, was born in Mexico, grew up in New York, and was educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Mr. O'Farrill played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. He then went on as a solo performer with artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. Mr. O'Farrill directed his father's orchestra, the Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, for 15 years at Birdland. In 2002, Mr. O'Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center. His debut album with the Orchestra, Una Noche Inolvidable, earned a Grammy® nomination in 2006, and the Orchestra's second album, Song for Chico, earned a Grammy® Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009. In 2011 Mr. O'Farrill and the ALJO released their third album, 40 Acres and a Burro, which was nominated for a 2012 Grammy® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. Mr. O'Farrill recently released his first solo piano album, The Noguchi Sessions, on Zoho.

The performance is sponsored by Pan American Life Insurance Group. American Airlines is the official airline of the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel is the official hotel. Additional support has been provided by The Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Orleans and El Tiempo.  The appearance of the pre-professional students from the NORDC/NOBA Center For Dance as part of the free community performances is made possible by Chevron as part of the Chevron Master Artist Series.

NOBA is the Central Gulf region's premiere presenting and service organization dedicated solely to the art of dance.  NOBA's dynamic Main Stage season annually features a diverse array of world-class companies and artists.  Each year NOBA provides concerts, classes, workshops and lectures to more than 25,000 area dance enthusiasts of all ages.  In addition, NOBA's nationally recognized award-winning education programs provide the youth of our community access to quality arts programs with over 3,000 free dance classes and workshops annually at ten sites throughout the Greater New Orleans area. 

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA); a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans (ACNO); a Community Arts Grant made possible through the City of New Orleans as administered by ACNO; a grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the NEA; and a grant from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

Editor's Note: Digital images are available by request through Christine Minero Rigamer at 504-324-4242 or Please only use show-approved images.