Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno
DANCE ORIGIN: Mexico
Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno was founded
in 1967 by Carlos Moreno-Samaniego, and has achieved recognition both in the
United States and in Mexico. The company originated with a handful of youngsters eager
to learn about their roots. Through the years the company grew, and now serves
to teach about Mexico through its classes and performances. In 1980, the
Mexican consulate in San Francisco named the company the official ambassador
for ongoing cultural activities with Mexico. Drawing on the artistic variety
of Mexico’s regions, Ballet Folklórico Mexicano has built a dance repertory of
over 120 pieces. Many of these are presented in their traditional form while
others have been restaged to include artistic elements from contemporary
DANCE ORIGIN: Mexico
Guerrero is a dynamic set of dance and song from Mexico’s coastal state, presenting themes of animals, courtship, and love. Guerrero borders the coastline west of Mexico City, and it’s known for it distinctive music. And its dances feature rapid zapateado, swirling skirts, whirling handkerchiefs, and wonderfully animal-like acrobatics.
The first two pieces are danzas, Mexican dances with indigenous influences. The dancers wear Acateca dress, embroidered with floral patterns and birds. Gusto de Tlapehuala comes from the mountains north of Guerrero. El Toro Rabon features a choreography that mimics a bullfight. The men are the bulls and the ladies are the toreadores. In this case, the bullfight is a playful one, and the bull is treated very well.
The next two pieces take us to the vibrant city of
Acapulco, where dancers grace the stage in colonial dress, and perform ballet
folklorico, Mexican ballroom dance. The first number is El Zopilote — The
Vulture, where the men show a lighthearted flapping of wings as they chase
after the women.The second dance is La Iguana emphasizing the unique
show-off qualities of the Guerrero style. The men’s choreography shows
characteristics of the iguana with acrobatic moves, some of them flat on the floor.
From the Sotavento region of Veracruz, Mexico comes a suite of three traditional dances:
In La Carretilla, the women show their skill, balancing gracefulness with strong physical footwork, and the men join them for the couples' form. The name of the dance refers to the movement of the foot—how it runs about like a little cart.
La Iguana shows common formations from the early twentieth century, when public schools first included Mexican dance in their curriculum. Geometric formations such as lines and circles became the most elegant solution for large groups on the proscenium stage.
El Zapateado, an
exhibition of skilled percussive footwork, evolved informally in the old port
of Veracruz. In recent years, friendly competition—on the plaza in Veracruz and
on our stage—has cleaned up the footwork and turned the dance into a contest of
skill and coordination.
The clothing used in these dances is typical of the southern region of Veracruz. Dancers wear white to stay cool and fresh. The women's long skirts evoke Spanish colonial elegance.
La Carretilla and La Iguana are typical sones jarochos of Veracruz. ("Son" refers to the rhythmic structure and verse of the song, and "jarocho" refers to people from the Veracruz area.) The busy port has been home to African, Indigenous, Spanish, and Caribbean people since the 1600s. Three centuries of improvised rhythm and song, informed by a rich mix of cultural traditions, led to a style with a distinctive percussive rhythm, syncopation, and vocal style. And three centuries of improving on the Spanish guitar led to the Mexican guitar-like instrument, the jarana jarocha. The repertoire consists of about eighty sones, some about love and rural life, and many that poke fun or taunt competitors. Jarocho musicians are also free to improvise new harmonies, melodies, and verses: so sones are rarely sung the same way twice. At a fandango, dancers perform on top of a large wooden platform, and the beat of zapateado footwork turns the stage into a resounding cajón wooden drum.
TITLES: No Te Rajes Tijuana, El Patito, La Loba
Calabaceados is the vaquero, or cowboy, dance of Baja California Norte—Mexico's northernmost state. These are the spirited and challenging dances of the rancheria, where dancers mimic the kicking and bucking of horses and bulls. The music is norteño, music from the north; it is influenced by the European polka, brought to Mexico in the 1800s by Bohemian and Czech immigrants. When calabaceados became popular in the mid-twentieth century, the vaqueros and ranch-hands - all the rancheria dancers- were men. Today, both young women and young men join in the competition, and this energetic style has become the newest dance craze of Baja California. Dancers stand in a circle, surrounding a solo performer. Competitors vie with each other for excellence, showing off their highest jump, hardest stomp, or kick that raises the most dust.
For this program, choreographer Carlos G. Moreno incorporated dances he learned in Baja California Norte from Grupo Ticuan of Tijuana, Mexico, and from his experience at rural Mexican festivals and competitions. In the first piece, No Te Rajes de Tijuana (Don't Give Up on Tijuana) the dancers shout to intensify and to proclaim their pride and hope for the city and its culture. The second dance, Il Patito (The Little Duck), shows some of the animated dance steps typical of the Baja Norte region. The final piece, La Loba (The Wolf), is a dance about a wolf, but this particular wolf is a woman on the prowl: a beauty who steals all the men.
Designer Angelina Moreno created the costumes to reflect those currently worn in Baja California Norte. Calabaceados women's costumes have assumed a masculine look in recent years. This style reflects women's role today on the ranch, as hard-working ranch-hands with vaquero chores. The size and elegance of the belt buckle is a matter of pride to dancers, reflecting how much "glimmer" a person has.