Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante in "Tigerlily and the Dragonfly". Photo: Julie Lemberger

Coming in 2016: Nature Movements from Bali and Haiti

Blending world dance styles and transporting audiences to different historical periods and diverse cultures are hallmarks of BALAM Dance Theatre's vision and work.  During the 2016 season, the company will examine movements from around the globe, beginning with nature movements from Balinese and Afro-Haitian dances, to develop new work for the company's repertoire.

BALAM has long worked with movements inspired by nature in its choreography. Some of these include the gentle swaying action of the body in an agem (a dance posture) or the vibrating movement of the fingers seen in Balinese dance. These movements, inspired by trees swaying in the wind or the shimmering action of running rivers in Bali, are fundamental to this style. Likewise, Afro-Haitian dance has movements inspired from nature such as yanvalou, an undulating action of the body.

Various explanations exist for this fundamental movement pattern of Afro-Haitian dance. Different sources ascribe its inspiration to the movement of a serpent or the waves of the ocean, representing the primal power of life. Executing yanvalou requires poise, coordination, and rhythm, presenting one of the most glorious movements from the Haitian Vodou tradition.

The company's ever expanding body of work will also incorporate  salsa dance as inspiration to create additional new work this season. In February, a reflection of New York style salsa and Balinese gamelan music will be posted. All of these fascinating materials will surely lead to new and remarkable work in BALAM's repertoire.

2016 Calendar (still forming)

Sunday, January 10 at 2 p.m. Free.
Myths, Stars, and Legends
Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library
10 West Ramapo Road
Garnerville, New York 10923
Artists: Inma Heredia, Barbara Romero, Yumiko Niimi, and Carlos Fittante

Thursday, January 28, 1:15-1:50 p.m. Free.
Sprezzatura New York Style
Chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Church, 325 Park Avenue at East 50th Street, New York City.

A Gotham Early Music Scene's (GEMS) presentation, this new Baroque dance program features Lisa Terry of Parthenia on viola de gamba, Maureen Murchie on Baroque violin, Adam Cockerham on Baroque guitar, and Caitlin Klinger, a Boston Early Music Festival (BEMF) dancer.  The music includes pieces by Corelli, Bach, de Visee, and anonymous.

Artist Spotlight: Nani Devi

Nani Devi, BALAM Dance Theatre's Resident Balinese Artist, teaches classical Balinese dance lessons for the company, as well as those from the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Sulawesi.   Born in Bali, Indonesia, Ms. Devi began dancing at the early age of ten in the village of Tabanan. 

Nani Devi. Photo Credit: Julie Lemberger
Noted for dancing with a natural grace and  sweet expression, she was selected by the  Indonesian government to perform in the  palaces of Bali for visiting heads of  state.  She has performed in Russia, Japan,  China, Thailand, the Philippines, and the  United States among others.  Look for  announcements about her  upcoming  master classes that will be open  to the  public. 

BALAM Dance Theatre to Premiere Myths and Stars in Leonia

BALAM Dance Theatre is bringing its eclectic, diverse style to New Jersey again with the premiere of a new Out & About series program, Myths and Stars.  This exciting dance song and dance program features comedy and Balinese, ballet, Spanish escuela bolero, Baroque and fusion dance styles.  The performance will be presented at the Leonia Public Library in Leonia, New Jersey, located at 227 Fort Lee Road, on Sunday, November 15 from 2:00-3:00 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public. 

The New York City-based company is recognized for presenting a new vision of contemporary dance that combines ballet, modern and diverse cultural dance styles from around the world and historic periods with Balinese theatre.  This latest program from BALAM’s community service Out & About series features the company’s Artistic Director Carlos Fittante, Resident Guest Actor Inma Heredia, Resident Spanish Dance Specialist Barbara Romero, and guest dancer Yumiko Niimi debuts with the company.

"This diverse program showcases the creative and expressive talents of the company's performers.  BALAM will present and immerse the audience in the grandness and beauty of ancient myths and the glamour and amusing aspects of pop Spanish culture," said Fittante.

Flamenco Stand-Up Comedian To Perform

The entertaining and diverse program features the world's first flamenco stand-up comedian Inma Heredia performing excerpts from her acclaimed one-woman cabaret show, Divas de España.  On the stage, Heredia will transform and become these performers:  singer and actress Sara Montiel; singer, dancer and actress Lola Flores; and actress, comedian and flamenco guitarist Charo.

Two beloved myths will be represented through dance.  The first, Rama and Sita, is an excerpt from the Hindu epic Ramayana, danced in a Balinese fusion style, with Fittante and Niimi. 

"This piece is very enjoyable to perform because of the fusion of the Balinese and balletic styles.  The Balinese dance style is unlike anything that I have done before," explained Niimi. 

The second piece, Icarus, presents the Greek myth performed by Fittante in a Baroque contemporary dance movement style with three-foot hand carved Balinese wings.  Romero will spotlight luminary dancer Fanny Elssler, who originally performed the balletic solo La Cachucha in 1836, to round out the unique program. 

The family friendly show will include an audience participation segment.  The library is handicapped accessible.  Parking is available in the back of the building, in the municipal lot located on Broad Avenue, and on the streets around the library.  For further information, contact the Leonia Public Library at 201-592-5770.  

BALAM to Perform in the Scottish Highlands of Verismo Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor

BALAM Dance Theatre will grace the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera's stage in the company's new production of Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.   Under Verismo Opera's Artistic Director Lucine Amara, BALAM will perform in Donizetti's famous tragic opera on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey.

BALAM was selected to perform for a second time in a Verismo Opera production because of its extensive knowledge of period dancing and experience choreographing dance scenes in opera.  "The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera is delighted to have BALAM Dance Theatre on our stage again.  Their professionalism and dance talent cannot be overstated," said Stage Director Evelyn La Quaif.

This past April, BALAM's Artistic Director and Choreographer Carlos Fittante and Resident Spanish
Photo Credit: Marilyn Monsanto
Dance Specialist Barbara Romero debuted performing as gypsies in Verismo Opera's production of Georges Bizet's Carmen.  In the new production, BALAM will transport the audience to a completely different landscape, Scotland, performing as
courtiers invited to perform in the wedding party at the beginning of Act Two.           

Both organizations share an aesthetic bond.  "We are presenting the splendors of the classics for the entertainment and enrichment of the community.  Ms. Romero and I are delighted to dance once again for the discerning Verismo Opera audience.  They graciously received our performance in Carmen," said Fittante.

Understanding the Period

Barbara Romero and Carlos Fittante
Donizetti's decision to set Lucia di Lammermoor in Scotland was not a coincidence.  At the time, the land known for its hearty, fast growing heather was the rage in Europe.  "In 1832, the world's first toe ballet, La Sylphide featuring Marie Taglioni, came to the stage.   That was followed in 1835 with Donizetti's premiere of Lucia di Lammermoor.  Both works were inspired by a European fascination with Scotland and part of the Romantic Era," explained Fittante. 

Researching the movement vocabulary and the aesthetic conventions of the times, provided insight and inspiration to create the choreography for BALAM's new dance in Lucia di Lammermoor.  "As dancers brought to celebrate Lucia's betrothal, Ms. Romero and I selected buoyant period dance steps that compliment Gaetano Donizetti's musical fanfare incorporating hand holding, partnered dance figures," he explained.

Fittante added that the creative process also took into account the voluminous, heavy period costumes to be worn.  "Calculating the time needed for a velvet skirt and full-length petticoat to unfurl and settle with a flair was a fun part of the process.  Our costumes' weight provides elegant gravitas to the dance.  Other period dance touches include crafting the choreography to reflect Donizetti's music," he said.


Carlos Fittante

A choreographer and dance artist of remarkable diversity performing Ballet, Spanish Escuela Bolera,
Photo: Carlos Fittante  Photo Credit: Neil Sapienza
Baroque, Balinese and other movement styles, Fittante has performed throughout the world in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, England, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and the United States.
  As a Baroque choreographer and dancer, he has performed with several leading period companies such as the acclaimed Boston Early Music Festival, where he is a resident co-choreographer, and Apollo’s Fire, Cleveland’s period music orchestra. 

Fittante has also performed with the New York City Opera, Bilbao Opera, Four Nations Ensemble, Sinfonia New York, Teatro Lirico D.C., The Bishop’s Band, and others.  His new period choreography for George Frideric Handel's operas Almira and Acis and Galatea enjoyed critical praise.


Barbara Romero

Barbara Romero
Romero has studied a variety of dance forms, including ballet, modern, flamenco, escuela bolero, neoclassical, and jota, under a litany of master teachers in the United States and Spain.  For six seasons, Romero toured the United States with the Boston Flamenco Ballet under the direction of "El Naranjito" (Simon Blasco), where she choreographed and performed a new production annually.  Among her period work, she co-choreographed and performed with BALAM a suite of 16th century Spanish Renaissance dances at the Lladró Museum & Collectors Society in New York City.




Tickets may be purchased online, at bergenPAC's box office located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey, and by calling (201) 227-1030 or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW.  Senior citizens receive a 10% discount.  The company is offering a reduced rate of $10 on all tickets for children, ages 12 and under.  Special senior citizen and children’s discount ticket rates are available at the box office only and must be requested before the purchase.  For special rates for group sales only, call (201) 224-2809.  Discount tickets are not available for purchase online.

The Triumph of Dharma

BALAM Dance Theatre to Debut at International Dharma Conference

Don't miss BALAM Dance Theatre's debut at the Global Dharma Conference (GDC) in Hindu Students Council Presents Sounds of Harmony on Saturday, September 12.  The classical concert will be performed at the NJ Convention & Exposition Center, located at 97 Sunfield Avenue in Edison, New Jersey.  The doors open at 8:00 p.m.
Hanuman Credit: Neil Sapienza
BALAM will premiere this scintillating new piece, The Triumph of Dharma, a Balinese modern fusion dance inspired by the Hindu epic, Ramayana.  At the request of presenter Hindu Students Council (HSC), BALAM created the expanded new piece especially for this international event.  The performance features ten dancers wearing vibrant, colorful costumes and masks from BALAM Dance Theatre's extensive inventory and collaborator Coyote Dancers. 

"This project has allowed BALAM to explore the profound concept of Dharma. One of its meanings introduces the immutability of right thinking in an environment of chaotic polarity.  Creating a dance drama that reflects the underlying unity at the heart of these contrasting qualities has been an inspiration for the company," said Carlos Fittante, artistic director of BALAM Dance Theatre.

International Line-Up

The dancers performing in this new piece represent different cultural backgrounds. BALAM Resident Balinese Artist Nani Devi,
Photo Credit: Julie Lemberger
a celebrated performer from Bali who has toured and taught throughout the world, performs an excerpt of traditional Balinese dance to Gong Kebyar gamelan music and also appears as Trijata, Sita's friend and confidant. Dancer and Japanese Noh Theatre actor Toshinori Hamada takes to the stage as the evil demon king Rahwana.  

Fittante performs the role of Prince Rama.  He has studied extensively Balinese dance and toured several times in Bali.  Principal ballerina Robin Gilbert dances the role of Sita, Rama's wife, one she is performed many times.

The multi-talented Fittante, a Baroque dance specialist and co-choreographer with the prestigious Boston Early Music Festival, created the choreography for this new piece.  Hamada and Coyote Dancers' Maher Benham co-created the choreography for the fight scene.

Featured special guest artist Boonyarith Pankamdech from Coyote Dancers joins BALAM’s talented team.  Originally from Thailand, Pankamdech debuts with BALAM as the playful, fun Hanuman the Monkey King.  Five modern dancers from Coyote Dancer also perform in this new production.

Global Conference

Three thousand people from over 20 countries are expected to attend the three-day international conference that begins on Friday, September 11 and continues through Sunday, September 13.  The three day event attended by students, youth and others from over 20 countries and more than 50 universities and colleges.   The unique blend of thought provoking sessions and discussions on Hindu tradition and practices, blissful Yoga and meditation workshops, fun-filled dances, thrilling performances and other activities.

In addition to BALAM Dance Theatre, the concert presents these diverse classical musicians and performers: flute virtuoso Rakesh Chaurasia, mandolin virtuoso U Rajesh, Ghatam (Indian clay pot) Virtuoso Giridhar Udupa, composer and percussionist Rajeev Mahavir, Rachna Sarang Academy of Performing Arts, and Ashwin “AKS” Subramanian.

Tickets, ranging from $25 to $125, to attend the concert may be purchased online or call 732-857-0581 or 732-322-3895.  For more information about the concert and the conference, visit the conference's web site.

BALAM Dance Theatre Returns to Hunter, New York to Present Dancing Shadows

BALAM Dance Theatre launches its third residency in Hunter, New York from July 6 to 10 to present Dancing Shadows, an Indonesian shadow puppet and musical drama.  In collaboration with Gamelan Son of Lion, a new music repertory ensemble specializing in contemporary pieces written
Carlos Fittante and Robin Gilbert perform with shadow puppets.
for the instruments of the Javanese gamelan, BALAM Dance Theatre will provide a new arts and educational enrichment workshop for children from the communities of Hunter and Tannersville, New York. 

The culmination of the residency will be the dynamic ensemble performance of Dancing Shadows on July 10.  Last year, BALAM Dance Theatre implemented the workshop, Discover the Splendors of Spain, inspired by the diverse dance traditions of that country on the Iberian Peninsula.
"With this residency, BALAM Dance Theatre feels a part of the Hunter community.  The inspiration for this program is derived from the local folklore of Washington Irving's tale, Rip Van Winkle, set in the Catskill Mountains," said Carlos Fittante, Artistic Director. 
The children in Hunter, New York will present the new piece with BALAM Dance Theatre's performers and the Gamelan Son of Lion's musicians on Friday, July 10 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. at Hunter-Tannersville Elementary School Gymnasium, located at 7794 Main Street in Hunter, New York 12442.  The performance will be free and open to the public.  For further information contact, (518) 263-4256.
The children will experience the music and magic of an Indonesian shadow puppet play.  During the workshop sessions, they will play percussion instruments, gongs and metallophones.   
Under the guidance of BALAM Dance Theatre and Gamelan Son of Lion, they will act, dance, and become puppeteers.  The students' work will explore fundamental concepts of dance making and performance, as articulated through the New York State Board of Education’s arts guidelines.  

Barbara Romero, BALAM Dance Theatre's Spanish Escuela Bolera dance expert, and Toshinori Hamada, BALAM Dance Theatre's principal dancer and martial artist, will appear as Mr. and Mrs. Van Winkle in period costumes and guide the children in creating their choreographic segments for the story.  Gamelan Son of Lion's company members will perform live on gamelan instruments in the program.
This arts intensive residency is presented through the Catskill Mountain Foundation Performing Arts Program at the Hunter-Tannersville Summer School Program with funding received in part through the New York State Council for the Arts and Friends of BALAM Dance Theatre. 

BALAM to Premiere Baroque Work in Spring Together

Baroque music, dance and fusion inspired work will shine in BALAM Dance Theatre's performance in Spring Together presented by Dance Projects Inc./ Beth Soll & Co. from April 8-10, 4:00 p.m., at the Medicine Show Theatre, located at 549 West 52nd Street in New York City.

BALAM will premiere Carlos Fittante's new choreography Icarus, a Baroque fusion solo inspired by Louis Pecour's masterpiece.  BALAM guest artist Andrew Trego will perform the new piece with music by Elias Guzman and set by Elisa Decker.

Fittante, a Baroque dance specialist, will perform Chaconne de Phaeton by Pecour to music by Jean-Baptiste Lully and set by John Woodrow Kelley.  The chaconne is a Baroque dance and music form notated in 1701.  The dance tells the story of Phaeton, a mythic character that attempted to fly the Olympic god Apollo's sun chariot across the sky.

Elias Guzman's original music evokes the magical ratios of antiquity, as well as primal drumming from Mezzo-America.  The solo features three-foot Balinese wings used to portray a spirit of transcendence.

Tickets are $20 with a reservation and $25 without.  To reserve a ticket, send an e-mail to or call 212-927-0476.  Provide your name, the number of tickets and performance dates.  Tickets may be paid with cash only at the door.

BALAM Dance Theatre to Perform in Verismo Opera's Carmen at Bergen Performing Arts Center

BALAM Dance Theatre has been selected to perform in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera's new production of Georges Bizet's Carmen.  Under Artistic Director and Met Opera luminary Lucine Amara, Verismo Opera, the house opera company of the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey, will present Carmen on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the theatre.

The company was selected for its extensive knowledge of Spanish dance and experience choreographing dance scenes in opera.  
"I am very excited to have the professional dance company, BALAM Dance Theatre, on our stage.  The professionalism and pure excitement they are assured to bring cannot be overstated.  We are thrilled to have them on board!" said Verismo Opera Stage Director, General Manager and Canadian soprano Evelyn La Quaif.

BALAM Artistic Director and Choreographer Carlos Fittante and Resident Spanish Dance Specialist Barbara Romero will debut with the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera in the production dancing as gypsies.  
"Performing in Verismo Opera's production of Carmen is an opportunity to cultivate further the sophisticated New Jersey audience and to incorporate new theatrically vivacious Spanish dance choreography," said Fittante.  

See BALAM perform at the beginning of Act Two in the Chanson Boheme (Gypsy Song) and in Act Four at the Plaza of Seville preceding the bullfight arena scene.

For ticket information and special discount rates for children, senior citizens and groups, visit Verismo Opera's web site.  

Don Quixote Soy Yo to Premiere at The Brick Church School

 Don't miss the adventures of Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza in BALAM Dance Theatre's new program, Don Quixote Soy Yo, with music and lyrics by Elias Guzman presented at The Brick Church School on Thursday, April 16 at 1:30 p.m.  

BALAM will transport the community to the Golden Age of Spain with the premiere of this new program at Watson Hall, located at 62 East 92nd Street in New York City.  The performance is open to the public and a donation is suggested to benefit the African Dream Academy.

Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes' classic novel Don Quixote de la Mancha, the program will present 60 children from the school performing with a cast of ten dancers from BALAM and Coyote Dancers in an operetta format.  

The performance is the culmination of a workshop series for kindergarten children portraying gypsies, windmills, and sleepy villagers.  Principal Lydia Spinelli, attired as the Condesa de Lebrija, will narrate the classic story.

 Come and enjoy a range of styles rarely seen together on one stage: Spanish, classical ballet, Balinese, Martial Arts, and Martha Graham techniques.  

Composer and musician Elias Guzman debuts seven original pieces representing dancing gypsies, battling knights, regal courtiers, and a live rock-n-roll triumphant chorus -- Together We Succeed!  Guest artists performing in the dazzling new program are Met Opera baritone Daniel Collins appearing as Don Quixote and concert pianist Anna Bogolyubova. 

To RSVP and for further information, contact Amy Warden at 212-289-5683 ext. 273.

BALAM Dance Theatre to Premiere Women of Wonder During Women's History Month

BALAM Dance Theatre's studio has been abuzz creating new work to excite and transport community members to another culture and time.  BALAM's newest creation, Women of Wonder, celebrates the extensive talent and achievements of its female artists. 

During Women's History Month, BALAM will unveil this diverse program of dance, comedy, and song, featuring an eclectic repertoire of Balinese, Spanish, and American modern and fusion pieces.  This family friendly program will debut on Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 p.m. at the Fort Lee Public Library, located at 320 Main Street, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  The event is free and open to the public.

A dynamic line-up of dancers and artists will perform in Women of Wonder.  Aligned with BALAM's mission to inform and educate the community about diverse culture and dances at the grassroots level, host Carlos Fittante will offer interesting facts about the history and culture of each piece. 

The program's exciting first stop is Bali.  Resident Balinese artist Nani Devi will present her exquisite interpretation of Condong from the Balinese Legong dance.  

Queens College student Justine Rodriguez and alumna Maria Gueros resurrect their scintillating performance of Jubilant Blossoms, a Balinese fusion dance that had a triumphant premiere in the college's fall 2014 dance concert, Cool Rhythms, Hot Moves.  

Transporting the audience from Bali to Spain, BALAM's resident Spanish dancer, Barbara Romero, debuts the company's newly reconstructed Escuela Bolero solo, La Cachucha. This rarely seen dance was made famous by the romantic ballerina Fanny Elssler.

She's back!  The world's only flamenco comedian, glamorous Inma Heredia, will return to BALAM, keeping everyone in stitches with an excerpt from her successful New York City cabaret show, Divas de España. 

BALAM makes its final stop to honor a special performer and dance trailblazer in the United States.  Former company member Maher Benham joins as a guest artist to premiere Homage, a modern dance solo dedicated to American dance legend Martha Graham.

Support BALAM Dance Theatre's Work in Underserved Communities

BALAM needs your help  now to bring its extensive repertoire and Out & About Touring series to more underserved communities in 2015.  Fees do not cover the costs of these projects.  
Make an end-of-year, tax-deductible donation of any amount now to support:

•$10-$15 per hour for rental of dance studio space
•$35 per hour for a tailor or seamstress to alter BALAM's costumes
•$200 rental of a van for one day to transport performers, costumes, and props
•$300 printing a flyer or postcard for a show
•$400 the average cost of a new costume

........and other costs.

An electronic donation made be made easily on this blog.  Click the Donate button found in the upper right-hand corner.  
Contributions may also be made with a check payable to BALAM Dance Theatre addressed to:

BALAM Dance Theatre
319 West 18th St., Apt. 4C
New York, NY 10011

Thank you for your support.  We look forward to seeing you at a BALAM performance, activity, or event in the New Year!

Jubilant Blossoms Makes Triumphant Premiere

Jubilant Blossoms, BALAM’s new choreographed piece, had a triumphant premiere with full houses all four nights in Cool Rhythms, Hot Moves: The Queens College Dance Concert. The Queens College Gamelan Yowana Sari Orchestra provided the live music.

Women of Wonder, A New BALAM Out & About Program in 2015

Maher Benham, a Martha Graham dance technique specialist, will join BALAM's female artists in its new program, Women of Wonder, on March 22, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the Fort Lee Public Library in Fort Lee, New Jersey.   (Photo: Donald Greenhaus)

Peruvian Colonial Dances at Trinity Church, December 29

Herald the New Year! BALAM’s Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante join GEMAS-Early Music of the Americas in a presentation of the 18th century Peruvian Codex by The Bishop’s Band at Trinity Church, 74 Trinity Place, in New York City on December 29, 2014.