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‘Homegrown talent’: ‘Sacred Journeys II’ reflects NM cultures through dance, music

Robert Mirabal, center, and Jock Soto, right, will perform in “Sacred Journeys II” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. (Courtesy of Pat Berrett)

Classic and contemporary dance come together to be as one.

It’s taken a lot of work – just ask Jock Soto.

The Gallup native and dancer tightened the choreography in presenting “Sacred Journeys II.”

The performances will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

“It’s a whole evening including choreography,” Soto says. “The show is shorter and tighter. I changed a few things in my choreography.”

“Sacred Journeys II” is presented by Festival Ballet Albuquerque in partnership with the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The show is a reflection of New Mexico’s cultures and storytelling through dance, music and spoken word. It features music by Grammy Award winner Robert Mirabal.

Joining Soto with choreography duties is director Patricia Dickinson Wells, native New Mexican Dominic Guerra and internationally known Vladimir Conde Reche, a native of São Paulo, Brazil.

Soto was born in Gallup to a Navajo mother and a Puerto Rican father.

Following in the footsteps of his mother, he first learned to hoop-dance – an early foundation for what became one of the most celebrated careers at the New York City Ballet.

Soto is retired and lives in Eagle Nest.

Additional guest artists include the Trujillo Family traditional Native American dancers.

Soto says many of the dancers from the first installment of the performance are back to perform.

“It’s looks like a bigger company,” he says. “Working with the dancers has been amazing, because it shows the homegrown talent that exists in New Mexico. It’s cool that you don’t have to bring in dancers from outside of the state to be a part of this performance. It shows that Patricia is doing something right with Festival Ballet Albuquerque.”

Soto says that for his pieces in the performance, he brought a little of New York City to the stage.

“They are dancing fast in the pace that I bring,” he says. “I bring that technique to a newer company because it’s exciting for me. It’s become a challenge for them to rise to that level. One thing about New York City ballet is they bring everything into the future. Having Robert to work with is something I always wanted to do. I’m using four pieces of his new music.”

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