Sorry I Missed Your Show: Eduardo Vilaro & Bennyroyce Royon at Gibney

Sorry I Missed Your Show: Eduardo Vilaro & Bennyroyce Royon at Gibney

About once a month, Gibney hosts dance companies as part of their Sorry I Missed Your Show series, a free and public program that includes a screening and discussion exploring recent dance works and their “relationship to the dance canon and contemporary practice.”

In April, they featured Ballet Hispánico‘s CEO and Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro in conversation with Filipino-American choreographer Bennyroyce Royon, who choreographed Homebound/Alaala for the company.

Vilaro began the program by welcoming everyone in Spanish, already making a point about language, culture, identity, and more. It was fascinating to hear the two artists talk about their experiences, Royon’s piece for the company and the process of creating it, and the importance of the audience’s experience of and thoughts about a dance piece. Vilaro, a Cuban-American of Chinese, African, and Hispanic descent, and Royon really dug into how identity played out in the creation of Homebound/Alaala, as well as in the piece itself. It was about embracing one’s roots and showing both the harsh and beautiful stories many of us in the diaspora live in our everyday lives. They emphasized the digging to find ones own identity while also finding connections between identities, especially between the Latinx and Asian American communities. While those histories and stories often are not thought of as being connected, they are deeply tied to one another, and there are similarities to be found even within all the differences.

Homebound/Alaala production photo by Paula Lobo for Ballet Hispanico

I also really appreciated their discussion about the accessibility of a piece in terms of making the culture and symbols accessible and understandable to an audience that may not be/probably is not of the culture. At the same time, the choreographer and the dancers also don’t want to take away the authentic meaning of the creators. Vilaro, a seasoned choreographer (and performer) particularly spoke to the need to balance the choreographer’s vision with the audience’s perception/understanding of the piece. He said that young choreographers get so stuck on the vision that they often fail to take a step back. Choreographers and dancers are living in the piece, but the audience sees it for the first time–that’s a completely different experience. As a very new choreographer myself, this stuck with me, and it’s part of the reason why I think constructive feedback/criticism is always important for artists in any field.

There’s a lot you can take away and learn from these Sorry I Missed Your Show programs, whether you’re a dancer, an artist, a creator, etc. or not. It also provides people with a chance to learn about and watch portions of pieces they may not have been able to see in person. I had seen Royon’s piece at BH’s Instituto Coreográfico showing, but getting to learn more about the piece and then to watch a part of the final performance was rewarding and fascinating. I highly recommend checking out this free (!) Gibney series. And located on Chambers Street, it’s a very quick journey from Hunter!

Catch the next Sorry I Missed Your Show at Gibney with Dance Theatre of Harlem on Wed. May 15, 6:30-8pm