Danzantes Unidos Festival brings a touch of ‘Coco’ and more to Fresno

Jarocho de Veracruz

La Compañía de Danza El Sol con su Jarocho de Veracruz en Fresno.
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La Compañía de Danza El Sol con su Jarocho de Veracruz en Fresno.

Those who know the difference between a jarocho from Veracruz and a zapateado from Baja California Norte will be in heaven when the 40th annual Danzantes Unidos Festival sweeps into Fresno this weekend (April 12-14),

More than 1,600 Mexican folkloric dancers will be busy with workshops at Sunnyside High School on Saturday and Sunday, while 53 groups will be strutting their best at the evening showcases at the Warnors Theatre.

“The newest surprise for everyone is how quickly we sold out the workshops,” said DUF executive director María Luisa Colmenárez. “It gave us the stimulus to work even harder.”

What has Colmenárez excited are the showcases, which filled out fast. The Saturday showcase filled out within two hours. Friday’s space was gobbled up a few hours later. The Sunday spaces took a couple of days to fill out.

“The groups that fell asleep at the wheel were left out,” said Colmenárez.

Trying to accommodate requests for the showcase concerts is a good problem to have, she said. Performing groups have eight minutes, and some thought has gone into slicing some time from them but Colmenárez doesn’t want to do that.

Another solution that has been thrown around is have presentations elsewhere at the same time, but that would force people to decide which showcase to attend.

“We try to accommodate everyone,” said Colmenárez, a folklórico instructor at San José State.

Danzantes Unidos focuses on programs that share the culture of dance.

Among the highlights will be the presence of a voice from the hit movie ‘Coco.’

Blanca Araceli Soto, who did the voice of the talent contest emcee in the Disney movie, will introduce the groups using the emcee’s voice. The introductions are pre-recorded.

The showcase concerts will highlight the usual fare from Jalisco, Chihuahua and Veracruz. However, there are plenty of surprises.

Resurrección Mexican Folk de Rafael Valpuesta will perform three different times on Friday night, with dances from Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, and, Guerrero.

The Fresno-based Irene González Project has been working on a new performance but has kept details under cover. The group performs Saturday.

Compañía de Danza El Sol from Fresno will perform its jarocho from Veracruz that has plenty of comparisons to the ‘Riverdance’ Irish performances.

If you’re preference is flamenco dance, then Orange County School of the Arts has you covered on Saturday.

The traditional Oaxacan ‘La Flor de Piña’ will be presented by Centeotl Danza y Baile from Santa Cruz on Saturday.

The LGBT group Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí from San José will make its local debut with a dance from Tamaulipas Norte.

Grupo Folklórico Sueños y Esperanza from Whittier is a group of special needs children. They will close out the Sunday showcase with a performance from Jalisco.

Dancers are expected from throughout California, as well as Nevada, New México, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Washington, D.C.

The festival includes a noon Saturday performance by children’s group at the Sunnyside High quad.

The opening ceremonies will start at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Sunnyside High gym.

Other activities include a mercado from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the high school, an ofrenda both days, and a recital from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Among the instructors are Amalia Viviana Basanta Hernández from México City; Sergio Sartiaguin from Nayarit; César Orta from Chihuahua; Juan Gil Martínez Tadeo from Tijuana; and, José Tena from New México.

The showcase concerts start at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Danzantes Unidos Festival

Scheduled performances for the festival showcases at the Warnors Theatre:

Friday, April 12 / 6 p.m.

1. Center for urban Performance & Service / Baja California

2. Tradición Dance Company / Michoacán

3. Resurrección Mexican Folk de Rafael Valpuesta-Level 1 / Veracruz

4. Grupo Folklórico Mexcaltitan Juvenil / Durango

5. Ballet Folklórico Raíces Mexicanas de María Valdovinos / Folklórico Mexicano

6. Resurrección Mexican Folk de Rafael Valpuesta-Level 2 / San Luis Potosí

7. Ballet Folklórico Amor de México / Campeche

8. Grupo Zapata / Tamaulipas Huasteco

9. Rincones de Mi Tierra / Tamaulipas Norte

10. Centro de Folklor / Nuevo León

11. Ballet Folklórico del Cañón / Sinaloa

12. Eterna Juventud / Chiapas

13. Paquiyollotzín / Aguascalientes

14. Sol de Fuego / Baja California

15. Sol de México Ballet Folklórico / Nayarit

16. Resurrección Mexican Folk de Rafael Valpuesta-Company / Guerrero

17. Ballet Folklórico Raíces de México OC / Tabasco

18. Rascapetatiando Dance Company / Veracruz Antiguo

Saturday, April 13 / 6 p.m.

1. Joyas Divinas del Valle / Baja California

2. The Irene González Project / Jalisco

3. Folklórico Nacional Mexicano de Elena Robles / Interpretive Traditional

4. Ballet Folklórico de Cal State Fullerton / Revolución

5. Ballet Folklórico Sones Mexicanos / Sinaloa

6. Compaña de Danza El Sol / Veracruz

7. Orange County School of the Arts / Flamenco

8. Unidos Por La Danza / Jalisco

9. Centeotl Danza y Baile / Oaxaca ‘Flor de Piña’

10. Sol de México Ballet Folklórico / Zacatecas ‘Nochistlán’

11. Ballet Folklórico de Frank Zapata / Guerrero

12. Ensamble Foclórico Colibrí / Tamaulipas Norte

13. Ballet Folklórico Alma de Oro / Jalisco

14. Ballet Folklórico de Mi Tierra / Baja California Norte

15. Ballet Folklórico Anahuac / Sinaloa

16. Paso de Oro Dance Comapny / Zacatecas

17. La Fiesta Danzantes de San Diego / Nuevo León

18. El Mar de Oro BF / Jalisco

Sunday, April 14 / 5 p.m.

1. Wa-Kushma / Baja California

2. México Moderno / Sinaloa

3. Ballet Folklórico Fuego En La Sangre / Michoacán

4. Grupo Folklórico Mexcaltitán / Hidalgo

5. Folklórico Latino de Woodland / Nayarit

6. Grupo Folklórico Los Laureles / Sonora Bronco

7. Ballet Folklórico El Mestizaje / Michoacán

8. Grupo Folklórico Los Mejicas de UC Santa Cruz / Revolución

9. Folklórico Herúvi Kalo / Tamaulipas

10. Ballet Folklórico Tierra de Mi Padre / Jalisco

11. Pasión de Mi Tierra / México en Mi Corazón

12. Ballet Folklórico México Vivo / Veracrúz

13. Folklórico Xochipitzahuatl / Chiapas

14. Compañía Folklórico Iluitonalli / Nayarit

15. Grupo Folklórico Fusión Mexicana / Nuevo León

16. Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno / Tamaulipas

17. Ballet Folklórico Sueños y Esperanaza / Jalisco