San Diego Ballet presents Panama 66: Art. Architecture. Jazz and Oh yes, Dance!

Filmed on location at the San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Ballet’s resident composer Gilbert Castellanos’ world premiere composition MI TIERRA takes prominence in San Diego Ballet’s Artistic Director Javier Velasco’s new site specific ballet, PANAMA 66.

The film features dynamic dance performances inspired by the art and architecture of the Museum’s May S. Marcy Sculpture Court & Garden and the Panama 66 restaurant.

Available in early 2021.  Stay tuned for updates on how to gain access to the video and for the in-person viewing party to be announced as soon as we can gather again.

“This piece may seem like it is born of the moment, but it actually has roots stretching back years.” says Velasco. “Gilbert’s piece, MI TIERRA, which is a direct response to reconnecting with his city and the positive influences in his life was set to be the centerpiece of our last offering in our 19-20 season. As with everything else, it was put on hold due to the Covid situation. As we were looking at alternative programming venues for this season, the opportunity to partner with the San Diego Museum of Art presented itself. We have had some very successful collaborations with SDMA in that past, but they had been fairly small offerings. SDMA suggested that perhaps ballets based on works in their collections may be a good starting point, as I had choreographed a previous piece to their lovely ‘Maria at La Granja.’  On a site visit, we passed through the outdoor courtyard that houses their cafe, Panama 66, en route to the sculpture garden. It suddenly struck me that one of Gilbert’s MI TIERRA pieces was titled PANAMA 66, after the weekly performances he held at the site. Right then, I remembered that for years, I had often thought of the courtyard as being very presentational with an almost stage-like concrete bridge over a pool and its dramatic columns. At that moment the idea of creating dances to Gilbert’s music in this space which was his ‘home’ seemed very ‘right’ to me. It also seemed right to celebrate the very “San Diego” work of architect Robert Mosher, who was responsible for that other great bridge of ours, the Coronado. Site specific works are tricky. Being sensitive to the space, but also making sure that the dance is first and foremost. Getting the audience to believe that a dance was not just dropped into place, but that it actually sprung from the place. I hope we have achieved that. I think we have.” – Javier Velasco, Artistic Director SDB