For nearly 30 years, Jaime Chavez has been producing “Día de los Muertos: Cosecha del Alma.”
“Day of the Dead takes place between Nov. 1 and 2, and it’s around the time of the harvest,” Chavez said. “The corn harvest and basically this show, this program for Day of the Dead, is called ‘Cosecha del Alma,’ which means soul harvest. The cosecha is calling to mind that it is the time of the harvest and the end of the agricultural cycle as everything goes to sleep in the winter to return again in the spring and it’s a reaffirmation of the cycle of life.”
“Día de los Muertos: Cosecha del Alma” honors the deceased with music, poetry, theater and dance on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the South Broadway Cultural Center.
“(Día de los Muertos) is celebrated by Mexicans and is a blend of aboriginal and Western tradition,” Chavez said. “It is a blend, if you will, but it is really in its core a reaffirmation of indigenous life. Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago. The Aztec, Toltec and Nahuatl people did not like how Westerners mourn their dead. The dead were members of the community kept alive in memory and spirit, and during Día de los Muertos they temporarily come back.”
“Día de los Muertos: Cosecha del Alma” opens with a four-directions food blessing from Steve Toya of Jemez Pueblo. The New Mexico group Gitano will later perform with Lenore Armijo, a local singer and actress. They will interpret the song “Bodas Negras,” by Julio Jaramillo, a famous Ecuadorian singer who sang ballads, boleros and corridos. Cuicani and Jose Luis Soto of Ciudad Juárez have developed a musical and poetic piece around Soto’s poetry that they will perform. Chavez, who is also a poet, will be accompanied by pianist Frank Chewiwie. Slam poets, former Poet Laureate of Albuquerque Hakim Bellamy, and Mercedes Holtry, a dynamic poet who looks at the condition of humanity, also will be part of the event, according to Chavez.
“This is a reflection of life and death and aboriginal, pre-colonial beliefs,” Chavez said. “Like I said before, they did not mourn their dead, but the dead were an integral part of life with the living, so they would commune during this time. … This is not Halloween. This is a deep cultural expression with color, festivities, honor, family and ancestors holding with tradition. We needed the space to commune both the living and the dead through art and culture.”