I’ll jump at any chance to see Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN again. Their combination of various forms of theatrical performance coupled with dancing took its audience on a journey spanning through Mexico’s rich history and culture coupled with light-hearted laughs along the way.
On April 7 the group had its third annual music and dance concert and welcomed a sold-out crowd to the CSUN Performing Arts Center with the traditional sounds of acoustic guitars and crooning of folk songs like “Sin Ti.”
The show’s journey began with the steady beat of a single drum. Aztec dancers took the stage with elaborate head dresses and costumes. They danced in unison, just as they would have done centuries ago, to pay homage to the elements.
The show included colorful and joyous dances from Vera Cruz, Sonora Bronco, and Jalisco. Elaborate costumes reflected the varying regions and times.
In an attempt to draw their audience in further, a set included blindfolded dancers bearing machetes that grazed the stage floor, lifting up imaginary dirt and sparking the imagination.
The show was not limited to traditional dances. Small tastes of modern-day Mexican-American culture were laced into vignettes throughout the performance.
The most notable characters of the night were La Chola ‘ Raul Ortega. During “The Raul Ortega Show,” a mini-play in which characters played a dating game to win a green card, Raul Ortega mixed his giant ego and giant pompadour to swoon the ladies.
His combination of sleazy come-ons and one-liners had the audience laughing and proved to be a high point in the show. Not to be outdone, La Chola paraded around during the same play and threw up gang signs while sporting oversized Dickies and the highest I.Q. of the green card hopefuls.
The combination of comedy and homage kept the show from slipping into a haze of repetition and limited view of Mexican traditions.
The show was not without its lulls-Southern Californians can only be so captivated by a mariachi group. However, the Mariachi Alma de Mexico did perform well and dancers who joined them brought the culmination of the show full circle and ended on a high point.
The Ballet Folklorico Aztlan de CSUN awarded their teachers and participants with appreciation awards at the performance’s end, a gesture that seemed appropriate and added to the camaraderie of the night. Perhaps next year Raul Ortega will take an award for Best Casanova Wannabe.
Nancy Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.