Legacy Project brings ‘incredible’ Latin ballet to campus

By Tatiana Campiglia
News Editor

On Thursday, Sept. 29 at the County College of Morris (CCM), Ballet Hispanico Dos (BHdos) performed for students, staff and faculty, educating the audience on Latin culture through the power of dance.

“The Legacy Project is an interdisciplinary initiative here at the campus,” said Professor John Soltes, co-chair of the Legacy Project. “We put on events for the college and we’re trying to get our students and our faculty and the community interested in seeing connections in all of our departments.”

The Legacy Project has covered a wide range of topics, from the beat generation of writers to genocide. Throughout the next year or two, Soltes said they plan to look at Latin America.

“Ballet Hispanico kind of emerged as a good candidate because, first off it’s a great kick off event because it’s a celebration of many cultures and secondly, it’s tough to cover Latin America because it’s so diverse, there’s so many great countries and cultures,” Soltes said.

“Professor Soltes, Professor (Michelle) Altieri (Legacy Project co-chair) and I over the years now have been talking about how important it is for our students to understand how their classes and their areas of studies don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Professor Emily Birx, co-chair of the Legacy Project.

Students lined up before the show and crowded the auditorium along with CCM faculty and public viewers. The show was a mix of many Spanish dance styles.

“We’re part of the educational and outreach brand in Ballet Hispanico,” said Nicole Nerup, a dancer with the BHdos company. “So we go around the tristate area and go to schools and try to share dance, especially with people who might not necessarily see dance on their own. We share dance, show and teach how to watch dance, what to look for, and we also share of course Spanish and Hispanic culture. We have pieces of flamenco influence, we have Cuban mambo, salsa. So that’s a fusion of Latino dance with ballet, jazz, and contemporary movement.”

BHdos gave a total of six choreographed performances.

One student, Shyann Douglas with a double major in dance and social science, said, “My favorite performance was probably the duet where they portrayed the Roma and the Spanish gypsy culture,” said Shyann Douglas, a dance and social science major at CCM. “It was just something I’ve never seen before, and it just made my stomach flip. All around it was just beautiful.”

“My favorite piece that they did was when they were on the floor and then he [dancer Joshi Martina] was lifting her [dancer Stefanie Roper] up with his legs,” said Madison Speroni, a liberal arts major at CCM. “I thought that was really powerful and I was on the edge of my seat every time they did anything or moved at all… I don’t seek out to see dance, so this is kind of new for me. I love how calculated everything is, but still very passionate. You can definitely tell that they love what they are doing and they know it very well and I thought that was incredible.”

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