Beyond the caballeros |

Beyond the caballeros

Wren Wertin

The Ballet Gran Folklorico was created with the encouragement of the Mexican government. The fundamental idea behind the performance is that understanding a country comes from understanding its people. With 288 documented living languages in the country, the people of Mexico are diverse indeed. Director Theo Shanab and choreographer Lino Ortega created the performance – with ample visual spectacles – to detail the history of Mexico.

According to the company’s literature, “the colorful, rhythmic, pulsating show is presented in a swirl of authentic costumes with mariachi, Marimba and Jerocho bands providing exciting musical settings for the panorama of Mexican dance and song.”

Mexico had a flourishing culture that far predates the appearance of European explorers. As early as 1500 B.C., shamans, acrobats, musicians and dancers could all be found in the Tlatilico zone (what is now Mexico City). The thriving culture also supported astronomers, whose work is evidenced by the multi-pyramids of Monte Alban in what is now Oaxaca.

By 800 A.D., there was an abundance of arts, including painting, sculpture, featherworks, poetry, music and dance. When the Spanish hit the Mexican shores in 1519, they brought new songs, dances and instruments to add to the mix.

The Ballet Gran Folklorico de Mexico will perform a wide range of dances, from Aztec rites depicting the cycle of life to the dance of the quetzal, a long-plumed bird symbolic of the Catholic culture. With intricate costumes and a flurry of movement, live musicians accompany the dancers.

“We really wanted to reach the community with this multicultural show,” said Vilar Theater Director Kris Sabel. “And we want to encourage the Spanish community to take advantage of this.”

The Ballet Gran Folklorico will make three performances today. The first two are for school children only, and are already sold out. They come as part of the STARS program hosted by the Vilar Center, which seeks to bring the performing arts to the students of Eagle County. The evening performance is free and open to the public, while seats last. To reserve tickets, call the box office at 845-8497 and leave a message.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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