The 39th edition of the country’s largest Mexican folkloric dance fest began with a performance of dances from Baja California Sur last Friday night and ended Sunday evening with an on-stage wedding proposal.
She said “Yes!”
In between, the 1,500 participants basked in all things folklórico – workshops, mercado, pachanga, education and more – at the Danzantes Unidos Festival held at the Clovis East High School complex. Dance shows were hosted at the Warnors Theatre.
What was seen:
▪ A lifelong ballet dancer (Dulce Escobar) wowed with her footwork in a solo piece by Rascapetatieando Dance Company of El Mirage, Arizona. The performance with a Guerrero theme was envisioned by choreographer Frank Ornelas especially for the first-year folkloric dancer.
▪ Ballet Folklórico Relampago del Cielo dazzles with a circle of flying machetes in a Nayarit piece that was first envisioned by director Marlene Peña-Marín more than a dozen years ago.
▪ Sacramento’s Ballet Folklórico Nube de Oro dominated Saturday evening with a polka-stomping tribute to dances from Chihuahua.
▪ Wa Kushma of San Diego put a new spin on danza from Nuevo León as masked “women” flitted across the stage while flirting with their male counterparts.
▪ The Irene González Project, true to form, kept its Sunday evening performance top secret. That is, with the exception of the placing of red dance shoes that belonged to the late folkloric dance teacher on stage. Daughters Maía and Chalomé González paid tribute to her with a color-bursting ‘Colores Vivos,’ which incorporated the music of Los Lobos and Lila Downs, an artist painting a Mexican tile figure, and dancers busting out the colors of the rainbow.
In all, there were more than 50 performances at the showcase concerts.
A ‘Coco’ moment
The loveable characters from the Oscar-winning animated movie ‘Coco’ – Miguel Rivera, Ernesto de la Cruz, Mamá Coco or Sante – has a deep connection to the Danzantes Unidos Festival taking place this weekend.
▪ Festival co-director María Luisa Colmenárez served as a cultural consultant for those in charge of making the movie that centers on México’s Day of the Dead;
▪ Four festival workshop instructors (including Fresno’s Óscar Bustos) went through Mexican folkloric dance steps so that Disney/Pixar animators could understand the body movements for more authentic animation;
▪ and, Marlene Peña-Marín, director of the Santa Ana-based Relampago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico, choreographed some dance numbers for the movie. (Just don’t ask her about the Academy Awards show choreography that was used with the performance of the song ‘Remember Me.’ The song won an Oscar).
Colmenárez has dubbed the four dancers her ‘Coco’ team. In addition to Bustos, they include Víctor Álvarez, Ruth Castro, and Diana Victoria García Colmenárez.
More stories, photos: www.vidaenelvalle.com