Thursday, May 23, 2013

Images Of Mexico - Week 21

Happy Memorial Day Weekend Everybody!  Here we are again!  Another week has past and it's time for another One Big Wedo blog post.  So here you have it.  This week I want to share my experience of the time I spent with Imagenes De Mexico Ballet Folklorico.  But before we begin, I want say thank you to everyone who has supported the blog.  This week One Big Wedo exceeded 2000 pageviews!  It wouldn't have happened without everyone's help in promoting and sharing it.  Hats off to you!  I am amazed at all the activity this week from all over the world!  People are discovering One Big Wedo!  Keep doing what you're doing because it's working!

In the beginning, I went with Richard to many rehearsals and practices for the various dance groups he was involved with.  In addition to being the director and instructor for Herencia, the group his family founded, he was a dancer in other groups in Southern California.  So weekly, I would go and observe, trying to absorb as much as I could.  One of those groups was Imagenes De Mexico or Images Of Mexico, whichever you prefer.  The group gave him inspiration and challenged him.  He was very proud to be part of it.  Every Saturday morning he would go and practice with them in Covina, California.  I would sit on the sidelines and watch the student's footwork closely as they drilled steps and technique.  The group was composed of all skilled advanced dancers and veterans of folklorico.   

Their classes moved rather quickly and they didn't break down the steps, no need to when everyone there already knew what to do.  Hours were spent conditioning and pushing themselves to their limits in hopes of reaching the next level of folklorico excellence.  While they were in agony and sweating away, I would be relaxed and enjoying myself.  Complex and difficult material was taught.  Most of the dancers were paid professionals that had impressive resumes of rich performing history.  Several of them danced in multiple groups or were instructors or directors of other groups.  What was a wedo doing there?  I was watching and feeling completely out of place.

Week after week I would go and sit.  Over time they invited me to do their warm ups with them and before long I was attempting to do some dancing with them too.  Not wanting to compromise my loyalty to Herencia, I inquired of Richard if this was a good thing for me to do.  He encouraged it, so I continued to practice with them.  My thought was I could build technique and get experience dancing which would ultimately make me a better dancer for Herencia.  That's how I justified it.  I had no intention of ever performing with them at that time. 

Speaking of the warm-ups, my niece came out to visit me in August 2011 - you may recall me writing about it in my post "Competition Movie Time!", she wanted to hit the gym with me during her visit.  The day after her arrival, she came to practice with Richard and I.  Since she wanted to exercise, I encouraged her to join in the warm-ups and conditioning exercises.  To make a long story short, she did.  Suddenly she became aware of muscles and joints she never knew she had.  She was so sore afterwards, that was all the exercising she did the whole week.  The rest of her time with me she was recovering.  She was surprised because she thought she was a fairly active and fit individual.  I experienced a similar kind of shock when I started dancing too.  We laughed about it all week long as every time she moved, her body reminded her what she had done to it.

I went to several of Imagenes' performances in LA area restaurants and venues and watched them perform.  They performed at Stages A Theatre (Bartco Theatre) in Los Angeles for their Day of the Dead production in November 2011 which was awesome and amazing.  In March 2012, they were featured on the news in a segment called "22 Segundos De Fama" which translates to "22 Seconds of Fame".  Check out the link below to view the video:

Often times I would be their camera man and take pictures of them at their performances.  The photos I have included in this post were mostly taken by me, unless of course I'm in the photo myself. 

With the help of Richard, I learned my first Chihuahua dance from the Images of Mexico repertoire.  It was called "Evangelina".  I also learned my first version of Jarabe Tapitio from them.  Richard worked extensively at home with me to help me get these two dances down.  He broke the steps down for me so that I could get them.  Thank you Richard.  I couldn't have done it without you, you make things possible!  

An event, The 2nd Annual Viva La Vida, to support and raise money for the fight against Breast Cancer came along and I was invited to perform the Jarabe Tapitio with Images of Mexico.  It was held at Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant in Montebello, California.  This was my first time performing with Imagenes and they made it an extra special night for me.  I felt like a king.  They treated me like they were bestowing on me some sort of "mantle" or "passing of the torch" that night.  Which was kind of awkward since I was the oldest man there.  It typically goes the other direction   Oh that's it, they were respecting their elders!  It suddenly makes sense to me now.  It really was a privilege to be asked and to be included, I was just a beginner after all.  I performed that night with Jessica Ramos to live mariachi music.  Just one dance, The Jarabe Tapitio.  You can see the video of my performance by clicking on the link below:


I was proud of my performance that night, considering all my inexperience and limited dance training.  I thought I did pretty good for a beginner.  Several people in the audience were also surprised that I did as well as I did, especially for being a wedo!  To date, this has been my one and only official performance at a restaurant.  After the show the emcee of the evening jumped up on stage to ask me a question.  Basically he asked, "Who taught you to dance that?"  I was so nervous that even though they asked me the question in English, he might as well been speaking "Charlie Brown" because all I heard was "wa wa wa wa wa"!  Typically, people assume that you speak Spanish if you dance folklorico.  That's understandable.  This time, I assumed he was speaking Spanish and I asked Jessica what he was saying.  Then after it clicked, all I could say was "Chilo and Richard".  Good job wedo! 

Some interesting facts from this night include:  It was my first time wearing the Imagenes bow tie.  I was so honored and proud to wear it and to be even considered worthy enough to adorn it.  Something else that I thought was funny is they painted my eyebrows on.  The wedo has light eyebrows, at times they almost appear not to exist at all.  At least they didn't go all "Frida" on me!  They also darkened my goatee.  Back then it wasn't as grey as it is now, but a little paint was necessary to touch it up.  These days it takes the whole bucket.  UGH! 

Another event that I had the opportunity to dance with Images Of Mexico was at  the Dorado Cultural Heritage Foundation Fundraiser.  I performed both the Jarabe Tapitio and the Evangelina dances.  I performed with Herencia Mexicana that day as well.  At this performance I danced the Jarabe Tapitio to live mariachi!  Voces de Mexico mariachi performed that day and what an opportunity for me, a beginner, to dance with such amazing and well known musicians.  Imagenes really provided me with a rare opportunity for someone with my experience.  It is something I will always cherish.

I'm hoping to add a link someday of the Evangelina dance from Chihuahua we performed at this event.  Please check back to see if it gets upload to YouTube for your viewing enjoyment.  Richard danced with Norma and I danced with Cindy for the Evangelina that day.  Below is the only picture I have of it to share.  After someone added the bear, they sent it to me on my phone!  Priceless!  One observation I have made from watching videos of Richard and I dancing is that we dance well together and in sync.  That's important to me because ultimately I want to dance like my teacher - Richard.

Some other things I can credit to my time with Imagenes are they are responsible for exposing me to dances from Colima.  They provided some master classes/workshops on dances from Colima.  I really liked them and would like to learn them so I can perform them one day.  Another thing I learned from them was one way to tie the sash/ribbon in a bow/knot for La Bomba, a courtship dance that signifies a couple getting married or "tying the knot".  As I write this, I'm curious if I still remember how to do it.  Note to self - try to do the knot.  There are several ways of tying it, I learned one of the ways here.

I really enjoyed my time with Imagenes.  I think that I was progressing faster while I was dancing with them.  In the fall of 2012 I went back to college and my folklorico time was cut way back.  Plus, after learning their version of Jarabe Tapitio, I had to learn Herencia's version and I started to feel like I was spending a lot of time learning multiple versions of the same dance.  I wanted variety.  Plus at my age, well, things get confusing and jumbled up a bit.  No need to complicate the matter by learning several versions of the same dance.  It was the end of a season for me and Imagenes.  I left the group to focus solely on Herencia.  However, I did get to dance one last time with them at Mananitas, Misa y Fiesta de Celebracion a la Virgen de Guadalupe in December 2012 - The Jarabe Tapitio of course!

As things go in dance groups, there's a lot of drifting and shuffling around of dancers between different groups, people leave and move on to other things in life and others leave for new opportunities.  Such is the case for both  Herencia and Imagenes.  There is always movement going on which presents a lot of challenges for groups.  I wrote about that back on week 15.  Richard got a call and was asked if he would like to teach Imagenes dancers some of Herencia's material.  He agreed and starting this month, May 2013.  We are back dancing with Images of Mexico and this time I am learning Herencia dances!  I love it.  Plus I am learning several other dances from other instructors, which is cool because they are dances I don't know.  I'm glad to be back!

So that's where things are at now.  The wedo is dancing with both Herencia and Imagenes!  It's good to be dancing.  That's it!  Be sure to check out Images Of Mexico on Facebook.  There are many pictures and videos for your viewing enjoyment on their timeline. 

In closing, I want to share with my readers a new cd on the market that is a must have for any mariachi music lover.  Congratulations Melinda Salcido on your solo debut album, Chiquitita.  Visit MELINDA on Facebook to get details as to where to buy your copy today.  T-shirts are also available.  Melinda's page is listed as a musician/band on Facebook.  On a side note, Melinda has seen me dance a couple times!  Below are pictures of her new album and Richard and I sporting our new Melinda wear!  I love it.  Until next week everyone, wedo out!  Get the cd!

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

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one! 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment