Colorful dancers twirled around the stage at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, spinning in perfect step to a mariachi band as they celebrated the fifth annual Folklor de Mexico music and dance concert.
The show was mostly comprised of theatrical dance acts by the Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN, a folklorical dance group that spends months in preparation for their annual show. A group of young female dancers called Ballet Folklorico Las Estrellitas began the performance, dancing passionately around the stage in hot pink dresses and fringed jeans.
Los Rayos del Sol, a group that consists of alumni and current students from CSUN, also performed for about 20 minutes. Los Rayos del Sol played harmonious songs that soothed and relaxed the audience for their night out.
The Teatro Aztlan, a student and community based theater group at CSUN that was started to inform the public of the socio-economic conditions of the Chicano/a and Latina/o community, also performed. The short skit featured a member of the dance group lamenting about her troubles perfecting a certain step, and her wishes for her friend “Chola” to show up. Sure enough, Chola appears, driving a glittering low rider with rap blaring in the background. Chola helps her friend master the step and then two more students show up to join the group.
The short Teatro Aztlan skit was a humorous skit that showed a lighter side of stereotypes within a racial scope. It also served as a means to encourage the audience to participate in the Folklor de Mexico dance group, as everybody in the community is welcome.
Next, the Ballet Folklorico Mixteco performed, and their elaborate line ups and rhythm made the audience giddy with anticipation for the remainder of the show.
The Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN was the next act, and as the audience hooted in excitement, the curtain rose to reveal women and men clad in bright dresses and suits. They were arranged in a community-type scene, and as the music sped up, the dancers spun around, some ducking off stage for hasty costume changes.
This first segment of the performance was danced in styles from the region of Chihuahua, and the performers delighted the audience with “El Himno Nacional de Mexico” and “El Adios de un Soldado.”
Despite the beautiful dancing, the Folklor de Mexico show is engaging and significant because most of the songs and dancing are combined elements of a story. In one segment, a woman is found with another man, and her previous partner shoots the lover. A funeral procession is carried out in dance, and the whole skit seems to embody the principals of love, lust and death within movement.
“It’s fun, and it’s not only dancing,” said Kaori Mita, an admissions and records staff member who performed in the Teatro de Aztlan skit as a Japanese CSUN student. “There’s a story in the whole show,” she said.
After the Chihuahua style dancing, the Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN presented three students with $500 scholarships and plaques. After a short intermission, the Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN was performing again, this time in a style from the region of Guerrero; a more colorful costuming complete with a rainbow of handkerchiefs that are waved like flags.
The most stunning element of the Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN is their ability to stay in perfect step along with the music. As a group that practices weekly, their hard work and devotion was evident in their flawless performance.
“I checked the newspaper and saw an ad, and decided that since it was close by and inexpensive, I would go to the show,” said Marisela Munoz, a patron at the show. “It’s beautiful. I will come back next year,” she said.
In the final portions of the show, the Mariachi Cuicatlan crooned to the audience, their powerful voices echoing through the theatre. The grand finale came as the Mariachi played while the Ballet Folkorico Aztlan de CSUN danced songs from the region of Jalisco.
The dancing in this final segment was fiery, lustful and mesmerizing to watch – as the colorful skirts of the women were swooped into the air, the stage was momentarily transformed into a dazzling rainbow of fabric.
“As a student group, our organization works all year long to put this amazing caliber of a show together for the CSUN and SFV community,” said Cindy Padilla, public relations director and a dancer in the Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN. “It gives us nothing but pleasure to keep the colorful traditions of Mexico alive and well.”