Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heart & Sol! - Week 16

Hello Everyone!  Do I have any readers left after last week's post?  Or is everyone hating on the wedo now?  Just kidding!  I know you love me and you're still on the journey!  Welcome the countries of Australia and Belarus to the blog.  It's nice to have you along for the journey.  Thank you to all the new readers and those of you who have "liked" my Facebook page, One Big Wedo (Guero).  I like that you "LIKE"!  I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone out there in cyber world with Facebook because it has taken a long time for people to "like" the wedo! 

Let me encourage you to head over to Facebook and search for "One Big Wedo (Guero)".  My page should pop right up!  BAM!  World of wedoness!  Click your pointer on the "Like" button and you'll be connected to all things Big Wedo.  That was easy!  Welcome to my world!

Keep sharing the blog with your friends, families, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, roommates, enemies, strangers, pets, etc. - EVERYONE!  I really, really appreciate it.  I would "LIKE" to get at least 3000 reader pageviews by Week 26, which will be half way through the blogging journey.  That would be awesome.  You don't need Facebook to share the blog with others.  Just send them to and they can encounter the wedo experience for themselves!  All you need is an Internet connection. 


Thank you, thank you, thank you Sol de Mexico Ballet Folklorico in Riverside, California for inviting me to come dance the region of Durango with you in your recent show El Mitote.  I sincerely appreciate it.  Your contribution to the Big Wedo's development is something I will hold on to for the rest of my life.  I had a lot of fun dancing and practicing with your group.  So again I say, "Thank You!"

In the beginning, when Richard started taking me with him everywhere, one place he took me was Sol de Mexico BF in Riverside, California.  Every Wednesday night he would go and practice with them for their upcoming show, Herencia Mexicana 2011:  "Para Morir Nacimos" which was held at the University Theatre in Riverside on October 29, 2011.  (Note:  The show Herencia Mexicana has no affiliation to Richard's group Herencia Mexicana BF!  They are two separate things, not to be confused with one another!  There is just a whole lot of "Herencia Mexicana" going on!)  I would sit in the lobby of their studio and watch their practices through the door leading to the studio floor and absorb as much as I could.  This was part of my initiation into the folklorico world. 

One particular region they were practicing, Durango, caught my eye.  Sort of reminded me of square dancing a little.  Plus the music was catchy.  I liked it.  The show came and went and afterwards no more Wednesday night practice sessions for Richard and I.  At least not for the moment anyway.

In 2012 members of Sol and Herencia crossed paths a few times over the course of the year.  In September, we went to watch Sol's performance in La Plaza de Las Americas at the LA County Fair in Pomona, California.  Towards the end of the year, Richard asked a mother whose daughters dance in Sol, to make Herencia some Vera Cruz braided hairpieces.  He liked her braids and wanted to add them to the Herencia version of the Vera Cruz costume.  We went to pick up the completed braids at one of Sol's performances at The Riverside Festival of Lights in December.  These events all led up to an invitation for Herencia to come and perform a couple of Chihuahua dances at Sol's next Festival of Lights performance.  I have blogged about that in the past, calling it my personal best performance of 2012.  You can view the videos on The Folklorico Channel on YouTube.

One day earlier this year, Richard and I were talking about our Chihuahua performance at The Riverside Festival of Lights.  In the course of that discussion I mentioned to him that I would like to dance Durango some time if an opportunity ever came along. 

There are several regions I want to dance and perform still before my days of folklorico are over, including Colima, Tamaulipas Polkas, Yucatan, Guerrero, Aquascalientes, Michoacan, and perhaps Baja.  Sol de Mexico BF has a rockin' Baja dance, by the way, that I like!  I also want to learn some of those Jalisco dances with the serape.  And if someone is brave enough to trust the wedo with a machete, I'm down to try Nayarit.  Be aware however, the wedo can be uncoordinated and might slice off your hand!  I have been accused of being limp wristed!  And of course, I want to learn more dances from the regions I've already studied.  Plus a whole lot of Polkas!  Polka, polka, polka!  It's the German in me.  For the record, Germany is my second largest reading audience next to the United States.  Hello my peeps!  On the contrary, no readers from Mexico yet. 

Anyways, back to Durango.  Ironically, a day or two after Richard and I had that discussion, he received a phone call from Carmen Dominguez, Executive Director at Sol de Mexico Ballet Folklorico.  She asked him if I might be interested in dancing Durango with them for their upcoming show Herencia Mexicana 2013:  El Mitote.  WOW!  Is that cool or what?  YEAH!  He asked and I said yes, so we drifted over to Sol and started attending Wednesday practices with them again.  Sol also invited Herencia to dance the two Chihuahua dances of La Dificultosa and La Jesusita at the show.  Very cool.  And during this whole time, another opportunity came up with Sol to dance our Chihuahua dances!  So three performances resulted in collaborating with Sol de Mexico BF!  Thank you Sol!

Sol de Mexico BF was the only group I had ever seen dance Durango until about two weeks before their big show.  A trip to the Redlands Market Night resulted in watching a performance of folklorico.  Imagine that!  A couple performed two dances from Durango.  One dance was a different version of one of the songs we were dancing with Sol.  It was interesting to see.  From my limited observations and exposure to Durango, one common element in the "Durango style" is the rope effect.  In both Sol's Durango and the other group's version, they used their arms to simulate a rope wrangling effect.  I have been told that this is a common theme in Durango style.

Practices started in January and next thing I knew April 13th, the day of the show, arrived!  Show Time!


The term "El Mitote" has several meanings in Spanish.  I looked up the Spanish to English translation and definition of the word and the following is what I found.  The term literally translates to "brawl" (noun) and has several meanings including:

1.)  Commotion
2.)  An Indian dance. 
3.)  Aztec ritual.
4.)  Household Festival.
5.)  Fastidiousness, affectedness.
6.)  Riot, uproar, disturbance, confusion.
7.)  Chat.

I find the term fit the show in many good ways.

For me personally, this was my first folklorico performance of this kind.  I have not performed folklorico in any formal theater settings with stage lighting and where tickets were sold.  This event took place in the historic Civic Center Theater in Corona, California on April 13, 2013.  The show  sold out completely and people even stood along the back of the auditorium to see the show!  I have performed in theaters before in various productions throughout high school and college.  It was nice to return to the stage in this setting and under these circumstances.  Over all, it was a show of "firsts" for me!  First time performing Durango, first time dancing with Sol de Mexico BF, first folklorico theater performance, first time sharing the stage with Aztec dancers and first time writing a blog post about it!  Wow, what a significant event for the Big Wedo.

The show included Aztec dancing.  Although I have seen Azteca before, this was the first time participating in a production with Aztec dancers.  They were amazing.  Their costumes and head pieces extraordinary.  I wouldn't mind trying it myself sometime for fun.  I'm not fit for those costumes however as they are too revealing and expose way too much skin for my modest temperament!  Besides I'm afraid that people would get blinded by the white!  I mean light.  I mean frightened by the sight! Too much jiggle in my shake!  Got to hit the gym first.

In the first half of the show, Herencia Mexicana BF performed their Chihuahua set.  Herencia performed at Herencia!   After intermission came my Durango set with Sol de Mexico BF.  In between the two came an appearance on the stage dressed in a flamboyant ruffled sleeved shirt and a cat mask in what I would call a very Marti Gras carnival moment in the show.  Should have been there to see it.  I'm a natural in ruffles.  If anyone got a picture of the "big kitty" please make sure I get it!  All that was missing was the feather boa!  Reminded me of my burlesque days but that's another story!  After three hours, the show ended, we took our bows and Sol de Mexico BF presented Richard and Herencia Mexicana BF a plaque in appreciation.  Thank you Sol. 

More specifically, there were three Durango dances.  The songs we performed to were El Jaral, El Revolcadero and Las Virginias.  The music is up tempo, lively and instrumental.  It has that polka feel to it, which I like.  A lot of accordion.  I listen to polka music sometimes for my own personal enjoyment.  I have collected several records of it as I come across them in my shopping adventures.  I also have polka on my Pandora Radio.  A term used for this style of music is "reel".  The music goes around and around in a sense.  Reels are popular in folk music according Wikipedia and are often notated in simple meter.  It's important as a dancer to stay alert while dancing to reels because it is easy to get lost in the repetitious mix.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of something like this.  Backstage was a whole different experience as dancers, actors and staff were busy about changing costumes and such in an organized commotion of activity.  I really have an appreciation for what all went into the show.  A lot of hard work.  Hopefully I will have another opportunity to do something big and formal again.

There are many spectacular pictures of the show on Facebook on the Multicultural California page.  Go check them out.  Be sure to "LIKE" the page as well.  Multicultural California is a wonderful resource for folk dancing photos, videos, event notices and more.  Plus Multicultural California has been a big supporter of the blog as well.  Thank you and keep your comments coming.  I really enjoy reading them.  It was very nice to meet you at the show. 

Below are some photos of my Durango costume.  I liked the shirt so much that I purchased it after the show.  I'm going to wear it for going out "Durango" style.  No, not "Gangnam Style", but "Durango Style"!  Who knows, perhaps I'll start a new trend!  Plus, as I have mentioned before, I like to buy my own costumes.  Why?  Well, I think that when I get too old and arthritic to dance anymore, in my old age, I'm going to dress up some mannequins and place them around my home in a sort of Wedo Folk Costume Museum.  That way I will always have the memories of my folklorico years around me. 

Below are some more pictures of my fun times with Sol de Mexico BF at Wednesday practices before the show.  Although I have no photos of their warm ups, they do high kicks sometimes in their warm up routine!  Fun!  I got to release my inner Rockette!   


If you have been following my blog then you know I have a tendency to analyze every little detail.  Say it isn't so!  Yes, it's true, I know.  This experience taught me several new things about dancing in general and made me realize some things about my own personal dancing.  It also reinforced the need to address some on-going habits I have that need correcting.  I appreciate all the awareness.  It has helped me in my self evaluation of my technique and development.  So what are some of the things I learn?  Here's a list:
  • Stand Up Straight!  Enough said. 
  • Look Up!  Although in some of the photos I noticed it appeared I was looking down.  I was looking at the audience as I like to watch them as they watch me!  It was dark in there so I could only see the front few rows of people.  I wasn't watching my feet - just for the record.
  • Smile!  In some of the photos it looked like I set my jaw to rigidly, so I can work on softening that up a bit.
  • The more dancers on stage, the more effort needed to pay attention to being in sync with each other.  I like having all the people on stage like that, I just need to become more aware of my fellow dancers. 
  • Keep those loose hands on your belt buckle Mr. Smith!
  • Lose 5 pounds from your midsection Michael and transplant it to your shoulders and chest.  The camera doesn't lie.  (I'm eating a chocolate donut as I write this!)  Jogging daily was recommended. 
  • Timing.  In a couple of the photos I noticed that it appeared that I was a bit off on the timing.  One particular step, the rolling of the ankle, was one that I delayed on.  I've done the step a hundred times since the show to see why I was out of sync with everyone else.  I thought I nailed it!  In my efforts to "kill the white gene" of uncoordination, I think I tend to overdue steps at times.  I believe what happened here is that I did a little hop/bounce before stepping back to roll the foot on its side, whereas everyone else just step back and rolled their foot.  We do a similar step in Tamaulipas and I think I do the same thing - bad habit.  Great awareness for me to fix this before I break an ankle!  I don't want limp ankles too!   

There you have them - lessons learned!  I'm sure there are many more I could add to the list but I won't bore you with all of them.  Thank you Sol for helping the Big Wedo improve

In closing, If anyone is looking for a folklorico home in the Riverside area to begin or continue on their folklorico journey, look no further than Sol de Mexico Ballet Folklorico!  It's a great place to dance and make friends.  Go dance you heart out!  Here's their information.  Call them today!  They are also on Facebook!


Once again this week Richard and I found ourselves in the fabric district located downtown Los Angeles.  I was looking for sequins for the restoration of our two china dresses I've blogged about in week's past.  I'm determined to have them done before the end of the year.  No luck this time finding the perfect supplies for the restoration.  We did stumble into a find however.  Check out the vintage trim we purchased.  These trims are going to be used in some new folklorico costumes!  Aren't they nice?  I love them.  The middle one is mine!

The shop owner took great pride in specializing in hard to find, discontinued trims and ribbons.  "You won't find them anywhere else!  They don't make them anymore.  This is all that's left of them"  I felt he was happy with my excitement when I discovered them.  My appreciation triggered a reaction in him where his passion for fabrics and trims stirred up a sense of purpose and pride for his shop.  I could tell he really loves his shop.

Lastly, Happy Birthday Richard!  You inspire me.  That's all for now...wedo out!

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Duarte Studio Practices:
Herencia Mexicana practices on Saturdays from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Please call before coming!

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one! Herencia Mexicana practices in Duarte, California.  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required. All are welcome.

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