World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno

GENRE: Folkloric
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1999

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 choreography.


GENRE: Folkloric
TITLE: Guerrero: Gusto de Tlapehuala;
El Toro Rabon; El Zopilote; La Iguana
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Carlos and Lisa Moreno
DANCERS: Americo Alejandre, Rigo Amador, Francisco Arevalo, Brenda Banuelos, Francisco Barbosa, Eve Delfin, Samuel Delfin, Alan Diaz, Eloisa Diaz, Alexandra Flores, Daniel Franco, Gabriela Galvan, Olivia Grajeda, Christopher Guerrero, Celeste Hinojosa, Jaime Jimenez, Yuseira Jimenez, Yannessa Maldonado, Alyssa Manzo, Carlos Moreno, Lisa Moreno, Jorge Naranjo, Armando Orozco, Elida Padilla, Nancy Ramirez, Denise Ramos, Diana Robles, Adriana Rodriguez, Alexis Rodriguez, Ana Rodriguez, Claudia Rodriguez, Janitzia Rodriguez, Jonathan Sanchez, Omar Venegas, Cecilia Villegas, Slava Wexler, Jennifer Yuen

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.

The choreography is a contemporary take on traditional Guerrero dance, created in 2012 by Carlos and Lisa Moreno. This performance also features the folk song form heard in great variety throughout Mexico, the son—evolved from indigenous, African, and baroque Spanish music. Son literally means “sound” and it’s a form that alternates instrumental music and sung rhyming couplets. Guerrero’s traditional son is called “Son Guerrerense.” It’s played with a violin lead, guitar, and percussion; or guitar and accordion; or—as in today’s trio—the box drum known as cajon, the harp, and the guitar. The group will also play half-tempo songs called gustos; and the chilena, a son named for South American musicians who passed through southern ports in the 1800s.



Veracruz, La Iguana, El Zapateado
Artistic Director:
Carlos Moreno, Jr.
2012 DANCERS: Francisco Arevalo, Gabino Camba, Eloisa Diaz, Moriah Fregoso, Olivia Grajeda, Maciel Jacques, Catalina Lacy, Nick Mata, Carlos Moreno, Abraham Paniagua, Luis Paniagua, Denise Ramos, Ernesto Rivera, Victoria Robles, Alexis Rodriquez, Olivia Ruiz, Antonio Sanchez, Cecilia Villegas, Slava Wexler

2010 Dancers: Francisco Arevalo, Gabino Camba, Eloisa Diaz, Moriah Fregoso, Olivia Grajeda, Maciel Jacques, Catalina Lacy, Nick Mata, Carlos Moreno, Abraham Paniagua, Luis Paniagua, Denise Ramos, Ernesto Rivera, Victoria Robles, Alexis Rodriquez, Olivia Ruiz, Antonio Sanchez, Cecilia Villegas, Slava Wexler  

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
: Carlos G. Moreno
: Jose Alonzo, Francisco Barbosa, Ana Cornejo, Eloisa Diaz, Moriah Freyoso, Olivia Grajeda, Jaime Huertas, Catalina Lacy, Julio Landoni, Maria Martin, Elizabeth Morales, Carlos Moreno, Lisa Moreno, Luis Paniagua, Victoria Robles, Olivia Ruiz, Antonio Sanchez, Ernesto Sanchez, Itza Sanchez, Cristina Tovar, Benny Valles, Cecilia Villegas

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.

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