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

Broadway Meets Baroque in Washington Heights

BALAM Awarded Grant to Create New Spanish Baroque Program

 BALAM Dance Theatre has been awarded a grant from the Fund for Creative Communities.  The grant will provide the ensemble dance company with seed money to present an imaginative Spanish Baroque dance workshop series and a performance in Washington Heights, New York for the community to experience and engage with the arts. 

BALAM will create a workshop and new program, A Don Quixote for the Washington Heights Choir School, a non-denominational after school program.  Inspired by the classic novel, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the children’s workshop series will run from September 18 through October 17 and be offered free-of-charge to the students attending the institution.       

They will receive Baroque dance lessons complementing their current Baroque music lessons at Washington Heights Choir School and dance and act in a finale performance with BALAM's artists on October 18.  In the workshop, students will learn period fencing, perform the dances sarabande and bourree, and get acquainted with grotesque masks in the commedia dell'arte style. 

The program will feature BALAM’s artists and guest artist Broadway actor and singer Mauricio Villalobos, as the bilingual English and Spanish narrator and Don Quixote figure, and Elias Guzman performing on the vihuela.  The performance will be presented on October 18 at 3:00 p.m. at Holyrood Episcopal Church -- Iglesia Santa Cruz, located at 715 West 179th Street, in New York City.  The performance will be free and open to the public.  Donations are welcome and appreciated.
Robin Gilbert in Folia.  Photo: Eric Bandiero.

"This award enables BALAM to introduce and serve children and families from the vibrant Washington Heights community to Baroque music and dance and our eclectic programming," said Carlos Fittante, artistic director, BALAM Dance Theatre.       

The program, A Don Quixote for Washington Heights Choir School, is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Thank You from the Children of Hunter, NY

BALAM received accolades for its second residency workshop and performance, Discover the Splendors of Spain, presented at Hunter Elementary School in Hunter, New York in July.  Twenty children, ages 4-11, experienced a diversity of Spanish dance styles.  They performed the courtly Pavana with live music, as well as the Sevillanas and Escuela Bolera dances.  They were intrigued with the lesson about the bullfight and enjoyed the bilingual songs performed by BALAM’s host, Inma Heredia.

Spirals Abound

 A Baroque Dancer's Reflections on the French Small Sword School by Carlos Fittante

What do Baroque dance and French small sword technique have in common?  As part of BALAM Dance Theatre's work to research and clarify its art, I undertook a weeklong intensive study at The French Small Sword School of the Martinez Academy of Arms that offered me rare insights into these fields.

Shown in photo: A practice small sword from the Martinez Academy of Arms

I was inspired and in awe of the physical skill and intelligence of this period martial art form.  Both Maestro Ramon Martinez and Maestra Jeanette Acosta-Martinez are true masters with outstanding scholarship, knowledge and experience, and an impressive physical ability to reconstruct this school. 

Aplomb was the first body position taught and is a fundamental concept in Baroque dance, as well.  This refers to a vertical carriage of the body and a sense of ease and serenity.  The implications are profound!  In the heat of a duel, one must remain detached, centered, and calm.  The arrangement and stillness of the torso is not disturbed.

Many other similarities and some differences were found.  A 90 degree turn-out of the legs is used by both; however, the arrangement of the body angle is different, with a three-quarter orientation in the fight technique and en face in dance.  In the martial arts form, stepping occurs with the heel first.  In dance, the ball of the foot slides on the floor with the heel raised before taking a step. 

Droigté (fingering or dexterity) was the most surprising concept I encountered in handling the weapon.  The small sword is held between the fingers with a firm but light grip, and the wrist remains flexible to allow for a timely parry and riposte (ward off and respond).  Through a minute and precise movement range, the small sword point is partially directed and redirected by squeezing and releasing the fingers, creating mini spirals with the weapon.

These spirals and the use of the fingertips are deadly with the small sword.  They seemed akin to the ornamental hand gestures and wrist curls in the dance technique.  In dance, the gestural spirals create aesthetic movements that complement the legwork and help express the emotions of the character.  

The 18th century courtier trained daily in dance and fencing.  Studying at the Martinez Academy of Arms sparked in me a refreshed and exciting perspective on the Baroque dance movement that I know and love, and I will continue my gentleman’s training in the art of defense.  Touché!

For classical fencing lessons in the French, Italian, and Spanish styles, go to Martinez Academy of Arms.

BALAM Celebrates 35th Anniversary Season, 1979 - 2014

“When I saw the Balinese perform, I was impressed by the glorious theatricality and richness, the involvement of the Balinese in their theatre.  It transported me!" exclaimed Islene Pinder in an interview with Ling Ong in 1984.

This year, BALAM Dance Theatre celebrates its 35th anniversary.  Founding Director Islene Pinder formed the company in 1979 to educate, delight and transport audiences with performances of cross-cultural work, especially the scintillating dances of Bali.  BALAM proudly continues her vision and now brings an expanded diversity of world dance styles and time periods to communities at the grassroots level.  This unique programming opens minds and changes lives! 

Photo: Islene Pinder in 1987

2014 Calendar of Events


Next Event

Tuesday, September 23. 7 p.m., $20 - adults / $10 - students & seniors
Dances of Thrones
This performance can be viewed free via live video feed.

Carlos Fittante, Guest Dancer performs Vainquer Vaincus by Telemann, Bach's Bourree from the Cello Suite no.3, Message Home: A 9/11 Memorial, Chaconne de Phaeton

National Opera Center, Audition Recital Hall
330 7th Ave (29th St.) 7th Fl., New York, NY 10001
(212) 796-8630 •

Full Calendar 

Sunday, January 19.  5:30 p.m. Tickets: $30, $40, $60  
 The Baroque in the New and the Old World: Venid Deidades
(a Peruvian Baroque opera by E. Ponce de Leon, 1745)
Teatro Lirico of DC ( • 202-360-3513
Church of the Epiphany
1317 G St NW, Washington, DC 20005
Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante, guest dancers

Saturday, February 1. 8 p.m. The Faces of Love, $10
Puffin Cultural Forum
20 Puffin Way, Teaneck, NJ 07666
(201) 836-3499
Full company performance with guest artists

Sunday, Februray 9.  3 p.m. $20 suggested donation
Baroque Groove: Ground Basses - Chaconnes & Passacailles
Cambridge Concentus
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational United Church of Christ
11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138
Carlos Fittante, Caitlin Klinger, guest Baroque dancers

Tuesday, March 18. 7 p.m. Clarion Society Masked Ball (Invitation only)
BALAM guest entertainment and dance lesson

Thursday, April 3.  2 p.m. Romantic Rhythms of Spain
Hellenic Women’s Club
Knickerbocker Country Club
188 Knickerbocker Road
Tenafly, New Jersey 07670

Tuesday, April 29. 7:30 p.m., New Music and Choreography Concert 
Queens College New Music Group, BALAM, Yowana Sari Gamelan Ensemble
LeFrak Concert Hall, Aaron Copeland School of Music
Reeves Ave, Flushing, New York 11367

Friday, May 2.  2 p.m. Captivating Rhythms
5 Star Premier Residence of Teaneck
655 Pomander Walk, Teaneck, NJ 07666

Sunday, May 11. 5 p.m. Chamber Music and Dance from 18th Century France
Folia-Entertainments of the 17th and 18th Centuries
Leah Gale Nelson, Baroque violin, Caroline Copeland and Carlos Fittante, dancers
Church of Our Saviour's Atonement (MOSA Series)
178 Bennett Ave, New York, NY 10040

Thursday-Sunday, May 22-June 8, DHRAMA:The Remarkable Dialogue Between Krishna and Arjuna, a one hour play written by famed Brazilian playwright/screenwriter/director João Falcão, featuring actors Luca Bianchi as Arjuna and Livia de Bueno as Krishna with movement consultation by BALAM.
Teatro LATEA in Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, 
107 Suffolk Street, NYC 10002, (212) 529-1948

Monday, May 26.  9 p.m. FREE
BALAM's Toshinori Hamada performs in The History Channel's new miniseries, The World Wars.

Monday, June 2.  6 p.m.
Music concert by Anna Bogolyubova and Elias Guzman of New York Music and Arts Center performing classical music, featuring BALAM's Rhythm Bird performed by Carlos Fittante.
Symphony Space, Thalia Theatre
2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
$15-adults • $10-children

Tuesday, June 3.  7:30 p.m.
Dixon Place presents Moving Men with BALAM's
The Dancing Warrior: Iaido, Apollon, Senamori, El Vito
BALAM's Toshinori Hamada and Carlos Fittante collaborate on a new program of traditional dances and martial training forms, including Japanese Samurai sword technique, French classical fencing, Noh Theatre dance, Baroque dance, and Spanish Escuela Bolera dance.
Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St.
New York, NY 10002
212-219-0736 •
$15-door • $12-advance purchase • $10-students and seniors

Saturday, June 28.  8 p.m. & Sunday, June 29.  3 p.m.
Anahid Sofian Dance Company 35th Anniversary Season
Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante, guest artists in Ma’na.
Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th St.
New York, NY 10023 • (212) 787-1178
To contact Anhid Sofian Dance Company, • 212-741-2848 •
$35 advance purchase • $40 day of show

Friday, July 11. 11-12 p.m.  FREE
Discover the Splendors of Spain
(cumulative performance from a summer enrichment residency)
Hunter Elementary School auditorium
7794 Main St
Hunter, NY

Monday- Saturday, July 28 - August 2. 10 a.m - 8 p.m. (workshop registration required)
Virile Elegance, Baroque dance masterclass as a component to The Small-Sword Academy
Martinez Academy of Arms, Levels 1 & 2,
Pope John Paul Community Center, 4206 Kennedy Blvd, Union City, New Jersey 07087.  For more information go to

July 21 – August 9. 9 – 5 p.m. (Registration required)
Marblehead School of Ballet 2014 Ballet Summer Intensive
BALAM's Baroque Dance Worskshop segment taught by Carlos Fittante. August 4-9.
The Marblehead School of Ballet
115 Pleasant Street, Marblehead, MA 01945
Paula K. Shiff, Director

Tuesday, September 23. 7 p.m., Dances of Thrones, $20 - adults / $10 - students & seniors
Exponential Ensemble,
This performance can be viewed free via live video feed.
Carlos Fittante, Guest Dancer performs a minuet by Telemann, Bach's Bourree from the Cello Suite no.3, Message Home: A 9/11 Memorial, Chaconne de Phaeton

National Opera Center, Audition Recital Hall
330 7th Ave (29th St.) 7th Fl., New York, NY 10001
(212) 796-8630 •

Saturday, October 18, 3 p.m., A Don Quixote for the Washington Heights Choir School
Holyrood Episcopal Church ~ Iglesia Santa Cruz , Parish Hall, FREE (Donations welcomed.)
715 W 179th St, New York, NY 10033

(212) 923-3770

The program is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Sunday, December 1 at 3 p.m., BEMF Chamber Opera Series
Carlos Fittante, guest dancer in program TBA
Jordan Hall
30 Gainsborough St., Boston, MA 02115

Friday-Sunday, December 12-14. The Christmas Show (dates to be announced)

St Georges Theatre
Sunday, March 22.  2 p.m., (program to be determined)
35 Haytt St, Staten Island 10301

Fort Lee Public Library. 
320 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Saraswati's Forum

 BALAM is launching Saraswati’s Forum, an extensive archival project to transfer digitally and catalog  founding director Islene Piunder's exclusive archive of films, videos, slides, audio cassette interviews on Balinese Dance and culture.

This vital project will assure all future company members and guest artists will be inspired and informed by this exclusive body of information.  It also guarantees the community will continue to benefit from these sources which motivate many of BALAM's customized programs that target schools, libraries, churches and temples, and community centers.

To sample a1988 audio interview from Ms. Pinder's library, click Isene and also see the accompanying 90 second slideshow that offers 2 photographs taken in Bali of her signature dance roles, Jauk and Spirit Window.

(In 1984 Islene Pinder commissioned several original masks for BALAM's repertoire from the award winning mask maker, Ida Bgus Anom.  These masks are still in use!)

We need your help to secure these precious library resources for the future.  Use the secure PayPal link on BALAM’s blog to make an electronic donation.  (Click the Donate button found in the upper right-hand corner).

Send your check payable to BALAM Dance Theatre in an envelope addressed to:

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

Please join us now in continuing Ms. Pinder's legacy and BALAM's work in local communities around the globe.  Your donation in any amount will help us accomplish this essential archival project! 

BALAM Brings Second Summer Enrichment Residency to Hunter, New York

BALAM presents Discover the Splendors of Spain, a free performance and Spanish dance workshop, for fifty children, ages four through twelve, from the Hunter-Tannersville community in upstate New York.    

This summer enrichment residency from July 7-11 will culminate with a program featuring the children performing their own bullfighting skits, alongside BALAM’s Inma Heredia as the hostess.  BALAM's Barbara Romero and Artistic Director Carlos Fittante will perform Spanish dances, including Pavana, a courtly piece from the 17th century, and the joyful Sevillanas.

The show is open to the public and will be presented on Friday, July 11, 
11 a.m.-12 p.m., in the Hunter Elementary School Auditorium located at 7794 Main Street in Hunter, New York.

The program is provided 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. 

 (Photo: Julie Lemberger)

BALAM Boutique Sale

Enjoy or gift a beautiful, handmade silk scarf for any occasion for only $20 (plus $5 for standard postage and handling) from BALAM's Boutique.

"These are unique, handmade scarves. The design and pattern is slightly different in each scarf.  They are a special gift to give someone."    --BALAM donor

Each scarf is a handmade work of art measuring 59” long x 13.5” wide.  Look good, and feel good because your gift giving counts twice!

Each scarf purchased helps raise much needed funds for BALAM Dance Theatre in 2014.

 (Photo: Julie Lemberger)

Our jewel tone collection includes scarves in pink, orange, red, green, yellow, blue, purple and black.

Place your order through our secure Paypal link by clicking our donate button, or send a check made out to BALAM Dance Theatre to our office:

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

Be sure to include your color preference and mailing address with your order.  If you have any questions or require further information, contact us at

(Photo: Jimmy Raye)