Dance in 'Christmas in New Mexico' - Albuquerque Journal

Dance in ‘Christmas in New Mexico’

Baila! Baila! dancers rehearse for their “Christmas in New Mexico” show.
Baila! Baila! dancers rehearse for their “Christmas in New Mexico” show.

Eighty members of Baila! Baila! Dance Company present dances from different regions of Mexico during “Christmas in New Mexico,” the company’s special holiday show. New dances from the states of Guerrero and Nuevo Leon are on a program filled with colorful costumes and dramatic movements.

“We’ll re-enact Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in one of the show’s more theatrical pieces,” explained director Israela Garcia. “The entire cast also sings a musical number.”

Garcia and her sister Felissa Garcia have been sharing their love of traditional Mexican folk dance for more than two decades through classes at the Baila! Baila! Dance Academy and performances throughout the area. Their shows include a sampling of the kinds of dances that have been and continue to be part of Mexican culture.

Next weekend’s performance begins with what Garcia calls “mystical dances.” These include a particular group of Aztec and Mexican dances. One section of the program pays a special tribute to New York.

Many of the dances from various parts of Mexico were influenced by Europeans who settled throughout the country. German influences permeate some of the dances from the northern area of Veracruz. Dances in coastal states were affected by people of both European and African descent. German and Polish polkas are danced in different parts of the country.

Costumes are an important part of the show. Baila! Baila! has a warehouse filled with 10,000 costumes. Some of them were purchased in Mexico and others come from the United States. A dance performed by women with handkerchiefs is new to this year’s show.

Dancers as young as 6, many teens and a group of professional adult dancers are part of “Christmas in New Mexico.” During the year company dancers travel internationally to perform and compete. Recently, the company returned to Albuquerque after winning the grand championship title at the Starbound National Talent Competition in San Antonio, Texas. Last year dancers performed in London during the Summer Olympic Games. In 2014 Baila! Baila! will present shows in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Baila! Baila! Dance Academy was founded in 1990 with the mission of educating students solely in traditional Mexican folk dance. The school’s curriculum has expanded to include country western dance, Latin/salsa dancing, hip-hop, classical ballet and Danza Azteca.

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