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Traditional color: Folklórico Dance Spectacular features styles from 11 regions of Mexico

Ballet Folklorico Santa Fe is one of several groups participating in the Traditions! Folklórico Dance Spectacular on Saturday, May 4. (Courtesy of Alexander Manzanares)

Traditional dance and music from 11 regions of Mexico will be part of Traditions! Folklórico Dance Spectacular.

Albuquerque’s Grupo Folklórico Desoluna, Santa Fe’s Ballet Folklórico Santa Fe and northern New Mexico’s Baile Ilusión, have teamed up with musical ensemble Banda Neluayotl from Chihuahua, Mexico, for two performances on Saturday, May 4, at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The show was created to bring awareness of Mexico’s vibrant culture.

“All of our groups are doing different regions,” said Alexander Manzanares, director of Ballet Folklórico Santa Fe. “We’re going to run the gamut, and on top of everything we’ve all prepared brand-new material for this, stuff that we haven’t done, and we made new costumes that we made just for the show.”

The cultural center recently created an initiative to offer its theater and its resources to people with good ideas.

“All three of us got together and (thought), ‘Hey, let’s take advantage of this opportunity and combine,” Manzanares said. “That’s why I liked it. It was a super idea. Why don’t we make this a super-unique show by bringing live music for the entire show? Typically, you never get musicians to play every single suite or every region. (Banda Neluayotl) are playing, like, 11 regions. All live music.”

The dance groups wanted to cover regions of Mexico that might be unfamiliar to New Mexico.

“Being small groups, we have the ability to kind of branch out and try things that people are not used to around town or around New Mexico,” Manzanares said. “We kind of wanted to try doing things people haven’t seen. We all have different styles, so it kind of ended up working nicely because we’re able to fill a show. Usually, shows like these, each region is super-long, so what we’ve done is made each region a little bit shorter so things are quick-paced so we’re able to fit in a lot of material in the two hours.”

The showcase will include dance and music from Oaxaca and Veracruz.

“We’re going to do a traditional danza,” Manzanares said. “A danza is like a representational dance, like a ceremonial dance.” Traveling and networking at festivals and workshops are what inspires the dances of Manzanares’ group as well as Grupo Folklórico Desoluna, under the direction of Jesús M. Rowéndolas, and Baile Ilusión, under the direction of Renee Roybal.

“All of us, me, Renee and Jesús, we like to go to festivals and workshops out of town,” Manzanares said. “My group, personally, like this new region we’re doing, we flew in a teacher from Monterrey, Nuevo León. We flew him out, and he gave us a private workshop just for the show. … He came and he made all the costumes from hand, and everything is artisan and we worked together. … When he was here, he worked with Renee’s group, so he got half the time with me and half the time with Baile Ilusión.”

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