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Founder continues to evolve Mariachi Christmas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Twenty years has passed in an instant.

There have been long hours of coordination, and Norberta Fresquez wouldn’t change a thing.

Mariachi Christmas is celebrating its 20th year at Popejoy Hall.

Fresquez is the founder of Mariachi Christmas, which has become a staple for the holiday season at Popejoy Hall for the past two decades.

“It’s incredible,” Fresquez says of the milestone. “I still remember back 21 years ago when (Popejoy Director) Tom Tkach called me and asked me about some of the productions I had done. He wanted to offer something to the community that would be cultural and meaningful.”

Fresquez began to develop a production that would be entertaining while educational.

For the past four years, Fresquez has teamed up with Mariachi Aztlán and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Ballet Folklórico for the performance.

Fresquez says seeing the show is like taking a trip through Mexico.

Dances are choreographed from various regions.

“We talk about the history, and it’s narrated in English,” she says. “This year, we’re visiting La Huasteca region of Mexico.”

That region is along the Gulf of Mexico and includes parts of the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí.

Of course, there will be the swirling skirts of the folklórico dancers. Joining the group will be the mariachi band, stacked with vibrant violins and cheery trumpets.

Fresquez says there’s always room for growth, and he’s grateful to be working with Popejoy Hall on the production.

“We have some of the best light designers in the state,” she says. “At Popejoy, we feel very great about the production effects. I would love to grow the show with adding more props and enhance it visually. I’d love to add luminarias and props that would help strengthen that meaning. The message after all these years is still very powerful and helps connect us.”