World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

FESTIVAL DANCERS

Ballet Folklórico Compañía México Danza

NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Mexico
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Rene Gonzalez, Martin Romero
First appearance in SF EDF: 2011
Website: www.mexicodanza.com

Hayward-based Mexican folk dance company Ballet Folklórico México Danza, was founded in 1991 by René González. With the collaboration of Martín Romero of Mexico City, the company has grown to include individuals of all ages and nationalities from diverse Bay Area communities. González and Romero each have over thirty years of dance experience at national and international levels. The group originated as an after-school program to keep children from drug use and gang activities. México Danza helps students of all ages develop as artists in a unique, disciplined, and cultural environment.

2016 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: Mexico
GENRE: Folkoric (Jalisco)
TITLE: Dances from the State of Jalisco: El Llano Grande; La Mariquita; Pelea de Gallos; El Gusto; La Negra; Jarabe Tapatío
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: René González, Martín Romero
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Martín Romero, Rafael Zamarippa
DANCERS: Alvarez, Estela Alvarez, Iliana Alvarez, Rigo Amador, Alberto Anguiano, Alexa Chavez, Abril Diaz, Zara Diaz, Steven Ekejiuba, Melissa Flores, Humberto Gutierrez, Miguel Guzman, Chava Hernandez, Audy Jimenez, Lupita Juarez, Edgar Lepe, Jena Macias, Natalia Macias, Norberto Martinez, Magdalena Nevel, Arianna Perez, Nancy Perez, Oscar Perez, Leslye Ramirez, Gavino Camba Ramos, Samantha Romero, Rurik Sanchez, Sergio Segura, Sofia Segura, Gizelle Taleno, Rafael Valero

Photo by Mark Muntean

Dances From the State of Jalisco showcased choreographers Martín Romero and Rafael Zamarippa’s signature high-energy footwork and swirling of skirts. This is ballet folklórico, pioneered in the 1950s when Amalia Hernández merged folk traditions with ballet’s pointed toes, raised arms, and geometric patterns. Jalisco is famous for the mariachi band; lively dances from European polka, waltz, and bolero; its ranchera themes of love, nationalism, and nature; tequila parties; spicy stew; and this group’s final number, Jarabe Tapatío.

The dances are:

El Llano Grande, evoking Jalisco’s natural beauty, green plateaus, tropical rainforest, semi-arid plains, and conifer forests;

Pelea de Gallos, to a song from Aguascalientes, in which fighting roosters with flying serapes jump and bump, artistically trying to knock each other down;

El Gusto, a festival song with footwork to exalt the ladies’ swirling skirts;

La Negra, claimed by both Colima and Jalisco, honoring a black locomotive that once traveled between them. Chugging rhythms introduce lyrics about love:

Little black woman of my sorrows, eyes like fluttering paper.
You tell them all yes, but you don’t tell them when.
I live in suffering.
I want her here with her silk shawl I brought her from Tepic.


Amalia Hernández originally choreographed this piece for couples: México Danza stages an open choreography with dynamic circles. To claim it for Jalisco, women wear ranchero dresses designed after the gualote turkey.

The finale is Jarabe Tapatío, also known as the Mexican Hat Dance. A Tapatío is a person from Jalisco, and jarabe is instrumental music: this song might be one of Jalisco’s rare original jarabes. It was banned for mixed couples by the colonial government, and revived in honor of independence, in joyful, sensual freedom.

Jalisco music features guitar, bass, vihuela five-string guitar, and trumpet. French-influenced men’s charro outfit were worn by wealthy haciendados, with gold/silver buttons and velvet sombreros. The women’s Jalisco dress is European-influenced with flairs of ribbons.

2014 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: Guerrero, Mexico
TITLE: El Alingolingo; El Toro; Mariquita; Las Amarillas; La Iguana
GENRE: Folkloric
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: René González
CHOREOGRAPHER: Martin Romero
DANCERS: Elyssia Alvarez, Iliana Alvarez, Alberto Anguiano, Alexa Chavez, Steven Ekaniube, Melissa Flores, Nancy Garcia, Arleth Gonzalez, Beto Gutierrez, Chava Hernandez, Erica Jasso, Audy Jimenez, Edgar Lepe, Norberto Martinez, Dianna Medina, Al Morales, Magdalena Nevel, Nancy Perez, Oscar Perez, Samantha Romero, Ronnie Romo, Rurik Sanchez, Sofia Segura, Gizelle Taleno, Rafael Valero

The coastal state of Guerrero has a significant African-Mexican population and it’s known for its lively, flirtatious African-inspired chileña music and dance. Under colonial Spain, Africans and Spanish Roma brought their traditional forms of music and dance to South America, and they danced them into hybrid cultural forms. Then, in the 1800s, when dancing and singing sailors stopped in Guerrero’s busy ports, these new styles migrated to Mexico, and they continued to evolve.

A son is a song, and the Chileña sones are African-inspired songs from Chile, Peru, and Argentina. They have strong beats and dynamic melodies, and their close companions, chileña dances, show sensual hip movements, teasing gestures, and imitations of courting birds and animals. These are flirtatious social dances, traditionally performed on a resounding wooden platform.

This suite of dances includes the following:

El Alingolingo, a popular song from Costa Chica, southeast of Acapulco. The name is about language, and the sons’ game is to yell out words that rhyme.

El Toro shows flirtatious men as manly bulls and females as gleeful matadors.

Mariquita is a couples’ dance with a song for Maria in terms of sweet endearment.

Las Amarillas shows a Spanish influence in the fine footwork, including a quick Flamenco-like technique of alternating heel and flat touch of the foot.

La Iguana is one of Guerrero’s better-known chileña dances, where men mimic iguanas and the lyrics warn ladies to be careful.

The music of Guerrero is light and warm, played by violin and wind bands with masterful improvisation. The lyrics are in ten-line decimas, with two-line coplas that often have unrelated meanings. The costume is also light and airy: white blouses and canary peasant skirts show a Spanish influence; the lightweight huipil poncho is indigenous; the handkerchief is distinctively Spanish-Chilean.

These dances have been with México Danza for some time, and were re-styled and choreographed for this stage in 2013-2014 by Maestro Martin Romero.

2013 PERFORMANCE

DANCE ORIGIN: Mexico
GENRE: Folkloric
TITLE: Dances of Northern Mexico: Viva Linares, Cafe Roma, El Circo
ARTISTIC DIRECTORS: Rene Gonzalez, Martin Romero
CHOREOGRAPHER: Jose Vences
DANCERS: Elyssia Alvarez,Illiana Alvarez, Alberto Anguiano, Gabino Camba, Sabrina Duenas, Melissa Flores, Miguel Guzman, Jennifer Gonzalez, Humberto Gutierrez, Salvador Hernandez, Vanessa Ledezma, Edgar Lepe, , Mario Martinez, Norberto Martinez, Elizabeth Morales, Magdalena Nevel, Nancy Perez, Oscar Perez,Martin Romero, Samantha Romero, Jaime Rosas, Sergio Segura, Sofia Segura, Rurik Sanchez, Audy Trejo

Mexico Danza presents a set of lively ballet folklorico dances from Mexico’s Nuevo Leon, a northeastern state that borders Texas.

The suite begins with Viva Linares, a dance that pays tribute to the city of Nuevo Leon. This elegant choreography is for women only, and its slow pacing is designed to show off the dancer’s concise and delicate footwork. In the second dance, Cafe Roma, the men amp up the energy, joining in for the couples dances in their sombreros and leather jackets. Finally, El Circo—The Circus,exhibits the most representative dance style from the region, a high-energy piece with strong physical movements. This style shows the music that lives in the dancers’ bodies and evokes the high energy of Mexico’s circus acts.

Nuevo Leon shares most of its music, dancing, and other cultural expressions with the rest of the northern Mexico. Ballet folklórico is the name for Mexico’s ballroom dance, a choreography that has origins in dances from nineteenth-century Europe. The Czechoslovakian polka was introduced to Mexico by German immigrants in the mid-1800s and it quickly became a favorite. Polka means “half-step” and it is recognizable by a rapid shift from one foot to the other. German settlers in the Nuevo Leon brought other popular forms, such as the chotis (chottische), a slower form of polka, and the varsoviana, a Bohemian partner dance that was a craze in Victorian ballrooms.

Regiomontanos (people from Nuevo Leon) adopted and modified European forms. Over the years they created the distinctive norteno style, a style more elegant and dignified than the original dances, and also more aggressive. These dances have a strong beat, a series of complex partner moves, complicated turns, and a lot of joyous foot stomping and yelling. This set was created five years ago by Jose Vences.

The music from Nuevo Leon is played by a conjunto norteno. The word conjunto means “combination” and the band is a Mexican folk ensemble reflecting its German roots. It has a 12-string guitar-like bajo sexton: double bass and drums; and the most distinctive norteno instrument, the German button accordion.

2011 PERFORMANCE

Mexico DanzaTITLES: Fandango Jarocho, La Tuza, El Zapateado
CHOREOGRAPHER:
Omar Angeles
DANCERS: Elyssia Alvarez, Hugo Flores, Melissa Flores, Alicia Garibay, Marilu Garibay, Jennifer Gonzalez, Luis Guerra, Humberto Gutierrez, Salvador Hernandez, David Herrera, Mario Martinez, Karina Meraz, Xochitl Meraz, Felipe Pantoja, Karina Pantoja, Veronica Pantoja, Randy Robles, Ronnie Romo, Martin Romero, Samantha Romero, Rurik Sanchez, Sergio Segura, Audy Elena Trejo, Maria Elena Villasenor

A joyful performance of Mexican folklórico dance brings to life the busy port town of Veracruz, Mexico. Zapateado footwork and spacious configurations show the sophistication of Veracruz society and a peoples’ vibrant zest for life. The first dance, Fandango Jarocho is a paseo, a musical walk-through, danced to a love song about the coastal region’s lush vegetation, wine, and candies (Fandangos are fiestas in which dancers often perform on top of a large wooden platform, the beat of zapateado footwork turning the stage into a resounding cajón—wooden drum.) The next number, La Tuza (The Gopher) is courtship dance that mimics a furry animal who lives in the ground. El Zapateado presents a lively footwork competition between the sexes.

Since the 1600s, Veracruz has been home to African, Indigenous American, Spanish, and Caribbean people. Musicians from this rich mix of cultural traditions have improvised together for centuries, sharing diverse rhythms, lyrics, and melodies. The result is the distinctive Veracruz form, a percussive rhythm, syncopation, and vocal style called sones jarochos. (“Son” refers to the rhythmic structure and verse of the song, and “jarocho” is a name for the people of Veracruz.) Some sones are about love and the pleasures of rural life, and others poke fun at or taunt competitors. Jarocho musicians continue to improvise new harmonies, melodies, and verses, so sones are often invented on the spot.

The company learned the dances from Omar Angeles of Fort Worth, Texas, and
set the piece for this stage.

The state of Veracruz is hot and tropical, so the dancers’ traditional costumes are white and loose-fitting. The women’s dresses reflect a Spanish influence—white lace, organza, heirloom jewelry, floral hair pieces, wave-like ruffles—as well as an African influence—aprons and shawls. The music of Veracruz is played on requinto jarocho and guitarrin—both evolved from the Spanish guitar—violines, guitarra, and harp.

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