Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cinco de Mayo - Week 19

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!  Before we begin, I want to wish my mother a very, very happy Mother's Day.  You're the best!  I'm sure you never anticipated your son turning out quite like this.  Hope you're proud of the "Big Wedo"!  And to all the other mothers reading today, a very happy Mother's Day to you as well.  Let's get started.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Cinco de Mayo.  Did you celebrate?  I want to thank the Workman & Temple Family Homestead Museum in the City of Industry, California for inviting Herencia Mexicana to come and perform for their Cinco de Mayo celebration "Romance of the Ranchos".  What a fun day.  More on that in a bit.  This week's blog is all about Cinco de Mayo through a wedo's eyes. 

I had no intention of writing on this topic this week but after having such a great weekend how could I not!  Inspiration is everything, so here we go!  Welcome to week 19!  And a very special welcome to China!  Thanks for joining in on the journey this week!


Wikipedia gives us a great explanation of Cinco de Mayo.  Here's what it has to say:

"Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a celebration held on May 5.  It is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (English:  The Day of the Battle of Puebla).  It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.  In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin.  Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day - the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico - which is celebrated on September 16."

Some of this may sound familiar.  My blog, "The Tale of Two Chinas" speaks of Puebla as well.  I recommend you take a look at it and read it.


As mentioned in the opening, this year's Herencia Cinco de Mayo performance took place at the Workman & Temple Family Homestead Museum.  I will be sure to post pictures in the future.  What a beautiful place.  We performed outdoors by the large koi pond full of water lilies and colorful koi with the robust and regal family mausoleum in the background.  Although the weather was over cast and windy, people came out for the event.  What a privilege to perform.  Herencia presented the region of Veracruz, which fit the environment perfectly.

We arrived early which allowed some time to mingle among the people who gathered to watch the performance.  This was one of the friendliest groups of people I have performed for, very outgoing folks.  We were warmly received.  I talked with many people who had a genuine interest in the group, the dancing, the costumes and the dancers themselves.  Several parents asked if their children could take pictures with the women who were all decked out in their elegant white laced costumes and carrying their Spanish fans.  

Two thirty arrived and it was show time.  I was ready.  Let the battle ensue!  As I have mentioned in the past, if something can go wrong at performances - it will!  In fact, I have come to expect it and I find myself wondering in anticipation, "What it will be today?"  This one was no exception.  No, no one fell in the koi pond, although that would have been priceless!  Just as long as it wasn't me.  There were some sound system challenges instead.  The volume too low, microphone mayhem and the music cut out to be exact!  Nonetheless, the show must go on and it did.  Despite the sound system upsets, the show went well.  That is until the wedo's solo.  I would have rather fell in the pond.

After finishing my personal best performance of the Veracruz Potpourri song, came my big number to show off my mad folklorico skills in a song called "El Palomo y Paloma."  Now I have spoken many times as to how I have been working on "killing the white gene" and last week I announced to the world that I have indeed "wounded" it.  Apparently the gene has been plotting its revenge and persuaded the rest of the body to participate in its little evil plan to show the wedo who's the boss.  Everything was going great and then I started to do my thing during the segment of the song where the man get down.  My brain was working right and telling my body what to do.  However, the body wasn't listening.  Suddenly I realized my legs and feet were in rebellion and doing their own thing down there.  Total disconnect.

This is not the first time the gene has attacked.  I will share of other folklorico failures in the future.  Now my feet were going a million miles an hour.  I had a smile on my face.  The crowd was loving it and shouting.  I told myself, "Keep calm and carry on!"  Just like the slogan.  I kept going in what was a moment of absolute folklorico freestyle dancing.  I guess it could be considered "true" folk dancing.  It was this wedo's interpretation of folk dance anyways.  OMG!  I could see Richard out of the corner of my mind and he was smiling.................and laughing.  But he did me a favor and kept the crowd cheering so they couldn't hear my footwork.  What a relief when that was over.  We followed that up with a nice performance of La Bruja, where the woman balance candles on their heads while dancing.  Great job, they all finished without dropping them.  That sure made up for my moment. 

After the show, several people pulled me aside to talk with me.  Many asked me for business cards, so that's a good indication that they loved it.  They complimented me on my dancing too.  I think they were just being gracious.  However, Richard pointed out to me that they had nothing to compare it to since I was the only one dancing on stage at that moment.  I suppose had there been several of us dancing it, then my mistakes would have been more obvious.  So the solo act saved the day!  Let me declare to the "white gene", "you may win your battles, but this wedo will win the war!"  Famous last words.


Besides a bruised ego, I finished the show with some battle scars.  On more than occasion now, I have been assaulted by the safety pins the women use on their bows and belts to hold them in place around their waists.  Cinco de Mayo's show was no exception.  After the show, I became aware of blood.  I had blood on my white camisa guaybera.  The blood came from me.  Who was it that said, "There will be blood"? Or was it, "Let there be blood?"  Oh yeah, it was a movie title. 

Anyways, there was blood.  I had managed to poke my finger again.  I think the "gene" was behind it.  I declare shenanigans!  Safety pins, which are unsafe by the way, and "the gene" are in cahoots, rallying against the wedo to see his demise.  As if the gene was trying to show me what's in my DNA.  Mr. Gene says, "Look at your blood wedo man, you're blood type is O - white!  You can't get rid of me........NEVER!  AH, HA, HA!"  Monday, my costume was off to the cleaners to extract the wedo's DNA and get it nice and white for this weekend's show.  I'm an original, don't get any ideas with that DNA to clone the wedo!  Gotta love show business and all the dangers that come with it!


El Palomo y La Paloma was one of the specific dances I wanted to learn when I first started folklorico.  Perhaps this stemmed from my fascination of pigeons.  When I lived in the California desert of Banning, California I raised pigeons, bantam chickens, roosters and quail.  I had hundreds of them, all kinds too - Tumblers, Rollers, Helmets, Nuns, Blue Bars, Pouters, Fancy Footed, Fantails, Giant Runts, Curly, Etc.  I had them all.  I was a regular pigeon peddler.  I would go to the LA Pigeon Club and sell my birds in their parking lot sales on a weekly basis.  I should add "pigeon man" to my resume. 

The word "palomo" or "paloma" is defined as either "dove" or "pigeon" depending on the translator.  Doves, in my opinion, are just respected pigeons!  The dance itself is a courtship dance that has movements with the skirt work and arms that represent the flapping and fluttering of wings.  If you have ever watched a male bird try to entice his love interest, you can relate this dance to the behavior a male bird exhibits as he tries to seduce his lady.  My bird had a broken wing that day.

The legend behind this particular dance has a bit of a morbid story line behind it.  This dance is about forbidden love between two cousins.  Oh My, My!  That spices this up a bit doesn't it!  Allow me to break this down and keep it real.  Were talking "kissing cousins" here folks.  Can you believe it?  Hard to believe such a thing when you see all that beautiful costuming and movement on stage.  I suppose you could consider it the original "Forbidden Lover" song.  I had no idea this was the story behind the dance when I started.  I like it all the same.  It will probably end up being the one dance the Big Wedo will be remembered for!   


Although I tried to justify my little episode this weekend by calling it "true folk dancing" and tried to laugh it off and let it go, I have to admit that it bothers me.  To the point that I have been questioning myself as to "What am I doing?" and "Should I even bother to continue?"  Sounds like I'm quitting, just like in the very beginning.  Ok everyone, pity party for the wedo on the count of three.  Ready?  One, Two, Three!  "Awe, poor wedo!  You're just not good enough!"  Now that that's out of my system, I'm ready to carry on.  Thanks for your support and sympathy.

I realize that I am a beginner and these kinds of things are to be expected.  Probably wasn't even as bad as I'm making it out to be.  The fact that these moments happen and are common, way too common if you ask me, doesn't make them any easier to deal with.  Everyone has their moments, good or bad.  This is all part of the performing and folklorico initiation.  The "Rites of passage" or just "Paying my dues" I suppose.  Sometimes I wonder if I am at capacity for my age.  Seems like as I fix certain things, others that weren't a problem suddenly become one.  Obviously I have lots of work to do.  At least my episodes make for some great reading entertainment for you, so it's not all a waste!  There's some optimism for you!

I say this because I want to address parents.  Parents, the one regret I have the most in all this is that I started so late in life.  So my advice to you is to encourage and get your children involved now.  Don't wait.  If they are old enough to walk, then they are old enough to start dancing.  Learn from the wedo!  Get them involved today.   The amazing dancers I see today all started at a very young age.  By the time they were in their prime, late teens and twenties, they were established phenomenal dancers - unstoppable and amazing.  The key is starting young.  Give them this opportunity and gift.  Don't limit their potential.  You can help them get through those embarrassing years while they are still young and people don't care if they mess up or not because they are cute.  I'll be in my 50's before those years pass me.  Oh dear!   


In college someone told me that you either love Los Angeles or New York City.  It's either one or the other.  Guess they were promoting that East Coast vs. West Coast concept.  Truth is I love Los Angeles!  All of California for that matter.  There's no place better in my opinion.  Don't get me wrong, I like New York City too and I can't wait to dance for all of you there - whether it be interpretive folklorico or the choreographed!  But Los Angeles has a special place in my heart. 

On Saturday night Richard danced at Casa Sanchez Mexican Restaurant in LA.  This place is one of the best places for Mexican food and entertainment in my opinion.  His night started off with a button casualty on his charro suit jacket.  To be more politically correct, he had a wardrobe malfunction.  Thank you Miss Janet Jackson for that terminology.  Thank goodness it wasn't anywhere near as revealing as her Super Bowl show mishap.  On Sunday after our performance, we decided to head downtown to La Casa Del Mariachi - Trajes De Charro to get the button fixed.  I spoke of this place in my blog "What To Wear?".  This shop is located across the street from Mariachi Plaza, the set for the One Big Wedo movie!

To our surprise, the street were closed for a Cinco De Mayo celebration.  What a treat.  We parked the car and joined the festivities.  I even spoke to the promoter of this event because I want Herencia to dance there.  I'm going to find a way to dance in Mariachi Plaza one way or another - movie or no movie, it's going to happen!  Here are a bunch of pictures from all the Cinco de Mayo activity of the weekend.  Taken by the Big Wedo himself!  That would be me.  Enjoy. 


This visit to Mariachi Plaza brought many more movie ideas to mind that I will be sharing in the future!  In the mean time, as you are reading this, I am off to perform at Our Lady of Assumption School & Catholic Church for my 1 year of performing with Herencia Mexicana celebration show!  Actually, it's officially their Mother's Day annual performance.  Regardless, I hope I nail it!  You will hear about it, however it turns out, next week.  My goals for this week's show:  To leave a great first and last impression.  To hold my own on stage and don't question and follow others if they mess up, thinking that I'm wrong.  Own it Wedo!  Lastly to nail the Veracruz Pigeon dance (El Paloma y La Paloma).  There you have it - this pigeon is outta here!


On week 9 I gave you a list of ideas I was developing for the blog.  Here's an update to wet your appetite.  Let's see which ones make the cut.

"Oh No!  Asthma?" 
"Images of Mexico"
"BF Herencia Mexicana presents Veracruz"
"BF Herencia Mexicana presents Chihuahua"
"BF Herencia Mexicana presents Jalisco"
"BF Herencia Mexicana presents Chiapas"
"BF Herencia Mexicana presents Tamaulipas"
"We Get The Idea, Wedo!"
"Dancing for Obama" or "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington!"
"What A Year!  A Look Back At The First Year Performing"
"The Ministry of Dance"
"Gueros Gone Wild"
"Wet & Wedo"
"Farewell Herencia?"
"The New Herencia"
"Richard Solorzano" or "Oh Ricky You're So Fine!"
"Colorado, Here We Come!"
"Herencia Pride"
"Modern Folklorico History"
"Visions For Folklorico"
"Working the Workshops"
"Man Up" or "Razzle Dazzle" or "You Go Girl!"
"Flaming Folklorico!"
"Folklorico Failures" or "The Show Must Go On"
"Tiffs & Tantrums" or "These Boots Were Made For Dancing [and Walking]"
"Movie Update"
"Viva Los Gueros:  I'm So White!"
"Logo Launch!"
"Why A Blog?"
"White Boys Can't Write or Dance or Jump or Sing or........"
"Viva Mariachi"
"The Day of The Dead"
"Skull Face"
"Thank You's"
"An Evening of Folklorico"
"Meet The Neighbors!"
"Sneak Peak at Season 2"

Anyone else have any ideas I can run with?  Send me your suggestions either by email or Facebook!  And be sure to check out One Big Wedo (Guero) on Facebook for the raffle fundraiser we are having!   

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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