Tuesday's scorching weather mellowed comfortably by evening, just as the Ballet Hispanico took to Wolf Trap's open-air stage. By the end of the New York company's strong and varied program, quite another kind of heat had been generated.
The troupe opened with "Idol Obsession," a major work in eight parts, choreographed by George Faison. This balletic retelling of the very short life of Tejano pop icon Selena was told as a fable. Characters included Selena, her killer (beautifully danced by Aydmara Cabrera), Our Lady of Guadelupe and Death himself.
Headier realms were explored in "Bury Me Standing," choreographed by Ramon Oller. Inspired by the thousand-year Gypsy diaspora, and set to a score of traditional melodies, this exquisite modern ensemble piece was danced with grace, precision and power. The movement wove back and forth through ethnic styles, evoking the many way stations in Gypsy history. Most remarkably, a sense of the Gypsies' core identity and spirit, somehow distinct from each of these influences, was clearly conveyed.
The finale, "Ritmo y Ruido," was the evening's technical showcase. Dressed in tight black street clothes and attacking Ann Reinking's Fosse-esque choreography, the troupe could really show off. Lighting and music also powered this piece, with crisp allusions to electronic dance music, hip-hop and Afro-Cuban rhythms synchronized with footlights, spotlights and color transitions.