First established as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, the national recognition of the influence and achievements of Latinx people to the history and culture of the US was expanded in 1988, to encompass a full month-long commemoration from September 15 (the date, in 1821, on which Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all declared their independence) through October 15. The 2020 celebration of the vibrant contributions of Latinx performing artists to the cultural life of NYC begins today, as Ballet Hispánico (now in its 50th anniversary year) kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with all-new virtual content in its free #BUnidos Por La Cultura series, followed by three weeks of interactive programming starting on September 21.
#BUnidos began as a daily video series to combat the loss of performances and community programming due to COVID-19. As the pandemic shutdown of live in-person public gatherings continues, BH maintains its dedication to providing content through its social media platforms. The effort is designed to instill a sense of community, while offering ways to explore Latinx dance and culture online, in the belief that “social distancing does not mean emotional distancing.” These virtual programs have included weekly watch parties of the company’s repertory, free class offerings from its School of Dance, and interactive materials from the Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) team.
In addition to the original new video performances this month, each weekday from September 21 to October 15, viewers will have the opportunity to experience a variety of special offerings:
Orgullo Latino Mondays @ 3:00 pm – Hispanic leaders and influencers will share the importance of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and what it means to be Latinx/Latino/Latina. Participants include Gloria Calderon and Nina Vaca, among others yet to be announced;
Salsa Tuesdays @ 1:00 pm – Salsa dancing rules in Latin America, and every country has its special flare. Each week viewers will learn salsa steps from Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and New York. Master teachers include Lyvan Verdecia, Luis Salgado, Ana Saoco, and Wil Nieves;
Wepa Wednesdays @ 6:30 pm – Ballet Hispánico will provide a platform to other Latinx dance companies (Bombazo Dance Company, Pajarillo Pintao, Sankofa Danzafro, and Antares Danza Contemporanea) to showcase their repertories and Latinx Dance genres from around the world. These watch party performances will be followed by Choreographers & Cocktails, a Q&A session with BH Artistic Director and CEO Eduardo Vilaro and the company choreographers;
Tiki-Tiki Thursdays @ 6:30 pm – Celebrate the legacy of Ballet Hispánico with backstage tales and insider conversations from company alumni and current dancers. Topics will cover different decades, from the birth of BH to the current dance environment;
Fiesta Fridays @ 6:30 pm – It’s not a Hispanic celebration without delicious food, and what better way to prepare it than with the family? Each week adults and children will gather to create a favorite family recipe, highlighting the history of the dish and the diversity of Latinx food culture.