Performing with great purity, energy, elegance and sensuality, the 12 dancers of Ballet Hispanico of New York created a strong first impression at Fullerton's Plummer Auditorium on Saturday. The program showed off their versatility with a vivid, mural-like depiction of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, a sultry whorehouse dance-drama and virtuosic solos evoking the exuberance of Rio de Janeiro carnival revelers.
Talley Beatty's "Tres Cantos" (1975)--to the music of Carlos Chavez, Lorenzo Fernandez and Silvestre Revueltas--evoked the dignity and pride of an Indian society via tautly upright postures, thrusting arms, pliant torsos and a sober weightedness reminiscent of the style of Martha Graham. The use of lengths of fabric to convey the stifling control of the Spanish conquerors also suggested a homage to the metaphorical use of cloth by Graham.
Among the more striking images was the covey of women in billowing cloaks who paused, looking skyward with palms up, like a chorus of clairvoyants. As the Indians' Leader, Pedro Ruiz created a dramatic aura with the keen attack and sustained intensity of his movements. Swathed in a long cloak in the middle conquest section, he seemed fatefully under the sway of the unseen conquistadors, ever-so-slightly cantilevering his upper body while the music shrilled tensely.