Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández.


W
e left Taxco early enough to arrive in the Palacio de Bellas Artes pretty darn close to 7:30 on the dot as Rudolfo had told us we would be.

As we clamored out of the van we bid goodbye to our fellow travelers. Rodolfo escorted us to the front entrance and there we would say good night to him as we would be seeing him again tomorrow.



There was a crowd outside the entrance – lots of people had come for the performance. Inside was packed with people as well. There were several lines leading up to what looked like ticket booths. We had no idea which line to stand in and so naturally we picked the shortest one.










We got up to the booth and my brother explained to the woman behind the counter that I had bought my tickets online and that we needed to pick them up. She waved us over to the longest of the lines. My heart sank for a few minutes as it just seemed to be so unfair that I had bought my tickets in advance and still had to stand in a long, long, long line just to retrieve them. My brother shared my sentiment so he walked up to a man who looked like he worked in the Palacio. He explained our situation to the man who then escorted us up to a window where there was no line but there was a person behind the counter. My brother repeated our story to the woman and this time, we were in the right place! I gave her my passport and my credit card and a few minutes later, she handed us our tickets! What a relief!!







With our tickets secured, we headed back outside and ate our dinner – the two savory pastries that we had bought earlier in the day in Taxco. I must say, they were pretty tasty – especially the tuna one as it had green peas as well!

Dinner over, we headed back inside. Before the trip, I had read that there was a Diego Rivera mural in the Palacio that was worth seeing. We decided to go in search of the mural only to discover that the Palacio was adorned with murals from famous Mexican painters. Unfortunately, none of the galleries were to viewing. Even without the opportunity to see the murals, we were not lacking for art. The Palacio is a relatively small building but its Art Deco style gives it wonderful charm.

Shortly before 8:30pm, we queued in line to enter the performance hall. It was not a big space and so it had wonderful feeling of intimacy to it.

Our seats in Section 1, Row A, numbers 14 and 15. I know i had bought seats up front but I didn’t realize how close we were to the stage until I started counting down the rows and seats to find that we were literally front row center; there was no one seated in front of us and no orchestra occupying the space between us and the stage. As I sat down, I could rest my feet on the bottom step leading up to the stage!!

From my seat, I took a picture of the performance hall and its beautiful stain glass ceiling. As I sat back down in my seat, I admired the gorgeous stage curtain which was a metal curtain completely inlaid with pieces of iridescent colored pieces of metal. I have never seen such a beautiful curtain like it before.
Soon the lights began to dim and the audience began to quiet down. As the metal curtain lifted, the audience gasped. I think we were all wondering how it would open up.


Surprisingly, the flashes of cameras went off as the performers entered the stage. I turned to my brother and commented that I didn’t think cameras would be allowed let alone the use of flash. On second thought, neither of us had noticed any signs prohibiting photography or video cameras so I decided to join the crowd. I quickly realized that trying to take still photos was an exercise in futility so I took out my video camcorder instead. Now, I could take full advantage of the seats we were in!







The opening number was a Aztec inspired number.  We were off to an amazing start.  The music, the costumes, the dancing.....it was all so captivating!








The second performance was what I, who is completely ignorant about folkloric dance in Mexico and have seen way too many stereotypical movies with a Mexican mariachi band and Spanish style dancers, expected.  But it was so much more.  I loved how the brilliant yellow color of the women's costumes stood out against the vibrant blue backdrop the stage.  



There were a total of 13 different dance performances in total.  Most of the dances were suppose to be the dances that are typical of regions of Mexico. But there were also a couple of modern dance acts - one that paid tribute to the influence that the sea has had on Mexico. Another told the tale of the jaguar which is an important character in Aztec mythology.  There was also a Mayan inspired dance routine and a very unusual performance where the dancers wore over sized heads.













Here are video snippets of the next 11 acts.











The eighth dance performance was one of my favorites. The women dancers were costumed in lacy, white dresses.  Two women danced on top of platforms, doing the tap dance that is typical of Mexican dancing. 









They looked so delicate, graceful and elegant.   Later on, the women were replaced by men doing more tap dancing.






















 
The finale performance was another amazing piece!  A large mariachi band was the opening act.  The full dance ensemble was on stage and it looked they were all performing on adrenaline.  A lot of body movement - feet were tapping hard and fast.  At one point, the dancers tossed rolls of confetti onto the audience; my brother and I got our fair share of it!


After the show was over, we followed the crowd out the main entrance. Earlier in the day, we had decided we would take a taxi back to the hotel. In all our pre-trip reading, we had both read that it was dangerous to hail a taxi in Mexico City. Apparently, unscrupulous drivers will take passengers to ATMs and basically drain their bank accounts. The rule of thumb is to either call ahead (i.e., radio) for a taxi or else take what are known as sitio cabs which from what we both read were, if you can call them, *safe cabs*. We when in search of sitio cab stand but there were none and the security guard we asked confirmed the same. So, we had no choice by to do what we were told not to do – hail a cab.

Now, we had to rely on our gut instincts to tell us how to pick out a *safe cab* from all the others. My brother’s instinct told him to find an old man driver because if need be, we could both overcome the man if we were attacked. My gut told me to find a cab where all the driver’s license information is properly displayed. By chance, we found a cab that met both our gut instincts. An older driver named Santiago Ramirez was the man who took us back to the hotel. Somehow, I was surprised he knew where our hotel was. He was also *Speedy Ramirez* as he got us from the Palacio back to hotel in a matter of minutes. I think both my brother and I were relieved to be back at the hotel.

It had been a very long day for both of us and we were both very, very tired. But hunger trumps tired so we went in search of a place to grab a bite. We knew Latins ate late and were certain that we would find a place to grab a bite but we were out of luck, at least in our neighborhood. The only thing that was open was an OXXO store which we would later figure out is the Mexican equivalent of a 7-11; a place that you can go to get munchies and drinks. Yes, that night’s dinner was comprised of a bag of chips, a bag of mixed nuts, a ice cream sandwich for my brother and a coconut popsicle for me. I think we broke the bank at barely $5 for dinner and considering what it was, we could have spent a wee bit more and gotten a tastier meal at the taqueria. Oh well.

We dined when we got back to the hotel. A quick shower, a few minutes to connect all my gear up for charging overnight and I was in bed. Tomorrow will be another long day – we meet up with Rodolfo for our city tour.

Buenas nochas.  It's been an awesome first day in Mexico!