Yumiko and Despertares: Building a positive dance community for the future
Yumiko was excited to be a part of Despertares Gala in Mexico City this year! We appreciate the work Despertares is doing to share the talents of the best dancers from around the globe with a wide audience while providing under privileged children the chance to study ballet.
Isaac and Esteban Hernández in rehearsal for Despertares. Photo: Santiago Barreiro
Directed by Isaac Hernández, the first Mexican to become a Principal dancer with English National Ballet, the Gala performance is only one part of a larger effort to make the arts more accessible in his home country. Together with his brother Esteban Hernández, Soloist with the San Francisco Ballet, they opened the first free ballet school in Mexico, where regardless of social or economic background one can have the chance to study ballet. The project is growing fast and currently provides fulltime training to 250 students, 100% tuition free, with a waiting list of 700 children.
Many dancers brought their Yumiko leotards for class and rehearsals in Mexico City. Pictured: Maria Kochetkova wearing Yumiko Black Label Dip Dye, Anneleen Dedroog in Yumiko SOFIANE, and Whitney Jensen wearing KUMIKO
Students in the free schools come from the surrounding working class and low-income areas – last year the local orphanage showed up at the audition with a group of children, 8 of which were accepted into the program. The teaching staff is lead by Héctor Hernández and supplemented by master classes from Isaac, Esteban and their colleagues from the dance world who visit frequently throughout the year. Students perform in public schools and spaces, as well as putting on an annual Nutcracker. They also travel by bus to many Mexican cities, and last year to an international competition in Utah where they were awarded a silver medal. ‘Many children come to us with no resources at all and have never been outside their town, let alone on an airplane. When you give them this chance, they really take it,’ noted a spokesperson from the school.
10,000 people attended the Gala performance in the Auditorio Nacional
The Gala performance was held in the Auditorio Nacional - a gigantic venue. The kind of place one would see Beyoncé or Madonna perform ‘we knew had to do it here, in order to make it accessible to the young people’ said Executive Director Emilia Hernández. 10,000 people attended the show on a single night – unprecedented for a Ballet performance at this venue. Large screens on either side of the stage projected close up images of the performance so that even those in far away seats could see the dancers expressions and details of the works.
The performance featured 27 dancers coming from 13 different companies Photograph by Alejandro Lopez
The performance featured 27 dancers coming from 13 different companies, musical theatre, and the free-lance scene, so there was truly something to appeal to everyone on the program.
‘It’s really showing dance at its best to as many people as possible. We should all be showing off our art especially to people who might not necessarily have the chance to get to a theatre,’ said James Streeter of English National Ballet.
Boston Ballet Principal dancer Misa Kuranga and ABT Principal Jeffrey Cirio
Yumiko hosted a ‘Meet the Artists’ free autograph signing session where people had the chance to meet the international visiting dancers, ‘It was incredible how excited the people were. I spoke with a young man there who had never seen ballet before but he waited in line for hours to meet us,’ said Streeter. Sharing experiences, exchanging stories and creating inspiring positive energy between professional dancers and students from all walks of life is something that Yumiko is proud to support.
Fans meet with Esteban Hernández, Isaac Hernández, and Tamara Rojo.
It’s an incredible experience for us – How often do we get the chance to know our audience, speak to them and listen to them? It inspires us to hear from them like this. For the audience to meet us? We are a group of dancers from so many different countries and different races. I think it sends the message that you can be any color, shape or size and come from anywhere to be a successful dancer and artist.
- Tamara Rojo
Royal Ballet Principal Lauren Cuthbertson with Stuttgart Principal Jason Reilly
Fans wait in line to meet with visiting dancers.
Yumiko looks forward to continuing to support Despertares and ethical projects like it. We believe that celebrating dance at the highest-level while helping to inspire youth and build a positive dance community for the future benefits everyone.
Despertares Program 2017
Savion Glover and Dance Candy Band - Photo: Casey Herd
Black Swan - Choreography by Marius Petipa Misa Kuranaga and Isaac Hernández - Photo: Casey Herd
Les Bourgeoises - Choreography by Ben Van Cauwenbergh Denys Cherevychko - Photo: Casey Herd
Grand Pas Classique - Choreography by Victor Gsovsky Jurgita Dronina and Aaron Robison - Photo: Alejandro Lopez
Grand Pas de Deux - Choreography by Christian Spuck Lauren Cuthbertson and Jason Reilly - Photo: Casey Herd
Dust - Choreography by Akram Khan Erina Takahashi and James Streeter - Photo: Casey Herd
Rubies - Choreography by Balanchine Lauren Lovette and Jeffrey Cirio - Photo: Casey Herd
Carmen - Choreography by Alberto Alonso Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernández - Photo: Alejandro Lopez
Nutcracker - Choreography by Sidi Larbi Marion Barbeau and Jason Kittelberger - Photo: Alejandro Lopez
Talismán - Choreography by Marius Petipa Maria Kochetkova and Esteban Hernández - Photo: Casey Herd
Closer - Choreography by Benjamin Millepied Maria Kochetkova and Sebastian Kloborg - Photo: Casey Herd
In the Middle Somewhat Elevated - Choreography by William Forsythe Alicia Amatrianin and Isaac Hernández - Photo: Casey Herd
Bob - Choreography by Dani Rowe Esteban Hernández - Photo: Casey Herd
Cherry Pink and Apple White Blossom - Choreography by Itzik Galili Anneleen Dedroog and Sebastian Kloborg - Photo: Casey Herd
An American In Paris - Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon Allison Walsh and Garen Scribner - Photo: Alejandro Lopez
Don Quixote - Choreography by Marius Petipa Whitney Jensen and Denys Cherevychko - Photo: Alejandro Lopez
Amir & Hemda Amir Guetta and Hemda Ben Zvi - Photo: Casey Herd