Dance review: ’80s Spain comes to life through Ballet Hispanico

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Dancers perform barefoot in “Jardi Tancat.”
Credit: Jeaux McCormick

Ballet Hispanico launched its 25th annual Joyce run with one work from the ‘80s and another about the decade. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro has attracted both new and older Spanish choreographers, as well as a lively young audience.

On the opening bill, Nacho Duato’s barefoot “Jardi Tancat,” a prizewinner from 1983, displays six of the troupe’s strong dancers, including the terrific Jamal Rashann Callender, a local product who recently won the Princess Grace Award. The piece is easy to read: People cultivate a garden and care for one another with strong, simple, shapely partnering.

The season’s world premiere is a trifle by comparison: Cayetano Soto, a native of Barcelona, offers a duet, “Sortijas,” for Callender and Lauren Alzamora, both wearing black socks and costumes (including a glittery black and silver sweater) by designers Talbot Runhof. A brief encounter, it ends abruptly when paper airplanes attack the performers.

The grand finale, “A vueltas con los ochenta,” has crowd-surfing choreography by Meritxell Barbera and Inma Garcia, but is noteworthy primarily for Diane Ruettiger’s costumes — punk-style outfits mostly in black, with studs and chains and leather and fishnet stockings, big hair and jazz shoes — and Joshua Preston’s lighting, which sends fixtures climbing up and down, bursting into strobe explosions and flooding the nightclub atmosphere with moody dust.

Set in  ‘80s Madrid in the months just after the long Franco dictatorship ended, it opens in silence, the dancers wearing big headphones attached to tiny iPads, which is strikingly anachronistic. But the European pop score, overlaid with the sound of a phone being dialed, makes it clear that we’re watching history.

If you go

Ballet Hispanico
Through April 28
Joyce Theater,
175 Eighth Ave.
212-242-0800
$10-$59,
www.joyce.org


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