Thursday, May 2, 2013

Taking Inventory - Week 18

Week 18!  On a roll!  Welcome Indonesia to the journey!  Thank you for all your support and readership.  I had an enjoyable time dancing in Azusa this past weekend for the city's Cinco De Mayo celebration!  There are many more performances coming up during the next few weeks!  Everyone is welcome to come out on Mother's Day to Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church & School in Claremont, California to watch Herencia Mexicana perform.  I will be celebrating my one year anniversary of performing!  Show starts at 3:00 pm.  In the mean time, enjoy these photos of Veracruz from the Azusa show courtesy of Multicultural California!

During the show, one of the female dancers in the group pointed out to Richard that I had noticeable underwear lines!  Oh no, panty lines! What was she checking out anyway?  Hmmm.  Yes folks, these are the conversations that are happening on stage during a performance!  Now you know what's really going on!  Anyway, I was wearing my tidy whiteys!  Apparently, my designer Calvin Klein undergarment has a gray stitching that was visible through my pants.  I confirmed this when I investigated at home.  Better gray stitching than one brown stripe!  It doesn't help matters that the pants are paper thin to begin with.  Look, you can see the pocket lining right through the fabric.  Does anyone else feel a breeze?  At least the camera didn't pick them up.  Time to invest in some Fruit of the Loom classics.  Perhaps I should develop a line of men's folklorico underwear called "wedos"!  What do you think?  All white briefs that are stylish and supportive with the "no lines" special feature!  Imagine the advertisement.  Go ahead!  Let your mind wander.

Above:  One of my favorite photos of all time!  I'm smiling!

Look at the photo above.  What's that wedo doing?  I like the photo, but the crazy wedo has his eyes closed.  Perhaps I was just having a moment and closed my eyes to savor it.  Plus, my head is facing the wrong direction.  As if to say, "Look at me everybody.  I can travel with my eyes shut!"  Good Grief!  I love photos like this because it bring so much awareness and allows me to fix my mistakes.  We have another performance of Veracruz at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum for Cinco de Mayo and I'm determined to nail these dances! 

Last week, in my blog "Ballet Vs. Danza", the "pointed toe" was identified as one of the ballet components of ballet folklorico.  This brought to remembrance that from the beginning, its been emphasized to me to "point the toes" during many of the movements we execute, such as kicks.  In the early days, we did several exercises that emphasised pointed toes.  I found myself pointing my toes as I walked down stairs and telling myself, "Point the toes, Point the toes, Point the toes" as I took each step.  I did that so much it starting sounding like, "Pointed Nose!"  During my first time performing Jarabe Tapitio, I failed to point my toe as I kicked over my partner's head as she knelt to pick up the sombrero towards the end of the dance.  Suddenly I had transformed the dance from ballet to hillbilly!  Hillbilly is yet another form of folk dancing you know!  What can I say, the wedo's inner redneck exposed itself! 

I was told I looked like "Grandma Moses" up there!   Of course, this made me ask, "Who is this Grandma Moses they speak of?"  Which prompted a search, only to find out she was an American folk artist who painted country images.  How fitting!  Fits right into the "folk" family.  Check them out!

My recent blog posts have caused me to take a look at "The Man In The Mirror"!  We've all heard Michael Jackson's hit which declares looking at ourselves first before we point the finger at someone else.  All this talk about taking responsibility, practicing, dedication, technique and so on, has caused me to pause and take inventory and evaluate myself as to where I'm at in this folklorico journey.  Thus resulting in this week's post called "Taking Inventory"!  Enjoy!


Recently, a friend of mine text me to say that they don't know how I do it - I work full time, go to college full time, blog, practice, perform, have a social life, travel and so on.  How does it all fit together and where do I find the time?  Well, it's complicated!  I work 40 to 50 hours a week at my job starting in the early morning.  I blog during my breaks and lunch which occupies about 8 hours of my week.  On Tuesday and Thursday evenings I go to class for 5 hours.  Practices are on Saturdays from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm and performances are usually on the weekends as well.  It's all about time management.  Somehow it all fits together.

As I mentioned in the beginning, there was a time where I was receiving about 10+ hours a week of formal classroom practice and training.  In addition to that, on occasion I would practice on my own or with another student at home.  Over time, however, as obligations, tasks and responsibilities have increased, personal practice time has decreased.  Plus it doesn't help when your practice partner is "wishy washy"!  Classroom practice time and training has decreased significantly as studio costs and membership loss.  I'm only receiving about 2 hours a week now as the Inland Empire chapter of Herencia Mexicana is no longer assembling.   


What are my goals?  What exactly am I trying to accomplish in my folklorico dancing?  What purpose does it serve in my life?  These are some of the questions I have been asking myself this week as I have been taking inventory.  Ever since joining Herencia in October 2011, I have said my goal is "to be the best white male folklorico dancer who started dancing at the age of 36 with no previous dance experience."  I am a beginner folklorico dancer.

I enjoy learning new things.  I am about to graduate from college on June 2nd.  Another leg of my educational journey finished.  This presents some options.  Do I continue on my educational path and go for the Masters Program?  Do I go take a Spanish course someplace?  Do I enroll in Bartending School, as that is something I also would like to learn?  Do I dedicate my time to the gym?  Do I open another business?  What does Michael want to do?  Or should I devote my free time to the dancing?  How much of a priority do I want to make folklorico?

Although folklorico takes a lot of diligence, persistence and work, I don't want it to become work.  I've enjoyed all my involvement thus far and I want to keep on enjoying it.  It has kept me busy.  But what would I like to accomplish personally with it?  I have pitched the movie idea, National & World Tours and the Herencia & Richard Solorzano book.  What else is there?  I'm glad you asked!  Here a list of some things I would like to accomplish:
  • I want to learn a plethora of additional dances from all the regions.  Lots of Polkas!!!!
  • I want to perform all over, in various venues and events, for the people. 
  • On a more personal level, I want to become a better dancer all around.  Improve on my posture, my attitude, my adaptability and my flexibility.  I want to maintain the repertoire that I have already learned so that it can be performed at a moment's notice.  I want to add to my costume collection.
  • I want to assist Richard in restoring Herencia Mexicana BF back to how it was in its prime and create an atmosphere that draws dancers.  Continue working on performing as an ensemble.
  • I want to see the china dresses restored.
  • I want to keep blogging!  I even have a concept for a One Big Wedo Season Two!
  • I want to develop an effective advertising campaign to promote the blog.
  • I want to develop a line of folklorico & wedo themed t-shirts & merchandise to support the dance group, provide scholarships and promote folklorico.  The Label:  WE-DO WEAR!
  • I would like to produce a show.  An Evening of Folklorico.  Featuring live mariachi, dancers & artwork.   
These are some of the things I would like to accomplish.  I have some other more outrageous ideas I will share in the future.  Stay tuned.


How do you measure progress?  I started the journey back in October 2011.  I began performing in May 2012.  I have performed with three dance groups:  Images of Mexico Ballet Folklorico (Images de Mexico), Sol de Mexico Ballet Folklorico and Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana.  I have attended two folklorico workshops on Guerrero and Tamaulipas.  I've observed one folklorico competition and numerous performances.  I myself have had 21 official costumed performances in the last year.  Then there are the dances themselves.  I counted.  I have performed dances from the following regions:
  • Chihuahua - 3 dances
  • Tamaulipas - 2 dances
  • Jalisco - 2 dances
  • Puebla - 1 dance (2 Versions)
  • Chiapas - 2 dances
  • Veracruz - 5 dances
  • Durango - 3 dances
That's a total of 18 dances.  Although they have been performed, they are not perfected and never will be completely.  Always room for improvement.  Plus I want to sustain what I have already learned.  As I get older, I'm finding that I forget things quickly.   Performing these dances gives me a sense of validation and accomplishment.  I'm always evaluating myself and grading my performances, trying to achieve the next level.  It helps when something is so ingrained in your being that it becomes part of who you are.   

I will agree that I have come a long way from no experience to where I am now.  Yes, that is progress.  I have "wounded" the "white gene" with some degree of success!  Also, I mentioned in week 9's post called "Three Challenges" that I wanted to lose a little weight.  Today I weigh 205 pounds!  I've lost six!  That's progress!  Now let's shoot for some muscles!


Performances are one way of measuring progress but what about all those things that happen behind the scenes?  Warm up routines, techniques building exercises (technica) and all those dances that haven't made it to the stage...yet!  Being in a performing group is challenging because you never know what may be asked of you to dance.  You have to be prepared all the time.  A customer may book a show at the last minute and want certain dances or regions in the show.  This often leads to an interruption of classroom planned material.  So you may be working on one region and learning a dance and then all of a sudden you have to stop and refocus for a show.  Classroom instruction gets broken up.  Some folklorico groups only perform one big show a year.  They will practice an entire year relentlessly to perfect and choreograph every detail.  They don't perform throughout the year but focus just on that one performance.  Herencia is different.

This has been the case all along.  When I first joined Herencia, we were learning Guerrero.  Then a couple shows were booked and we shifted to Veracruz and Jalisco to accommodate the show.  I have never danced the Guerrero on stage.  In fact, there are four Guerrero dances that I have worked on in the classroom and in workshops.  There have been numerous others as well - two dances from Colima, four Chihuahua dances, three dances from Sinaloa, three dances from Yucatan, two dances from Tamaulipas, three dances of Veracruz, One dance from Chiapas, five dances from Jalisco, another variation of Jarabe Tapitio - I'm sure there are others that I have also been exposed to, I just can't recall them at the moment.  I even learned one way to tie the knot for La Bomba!  My point is that these are all in "the works".  I have to keep these all in mind as I take inventory.


There are definitely some areas that I can improve upon.  I want to be consistent in the material I have already learned while I continue to move forward learning new material.  I want to have a routine and classroom practices that are consistent.  I want to help address some of the group's internal factors that have an effect on performances.  There will always be external factors that come up at a show that you don't have control over.  There's no need to have internal factors come into play at performances that complicate matters further.  I want to work on my attitude and appearance. 


So Michael, you've taken inventory, you have your goals, you know what you need to improve upon - What are you going to do about it?  Here's the plan!

  • I'm going to hold off on a Spanish class and bartending school at this time and focus on the dancing.  I am not getting any younger and these are things I can explore later in life!
  • Recently, Richard was asked to come teach at Images de Mexico BF.  Therefore, I am going to practice with Images of Mexico Ballet Folklorico on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  This will increase my classroom practice and conditioning time from 2 to 6 hours a week.
  • On the days I don't have classroom practice, I am going to practice at home at least 30 minutes a day to review the dances I have learned and drill new material and steps I am learning.  Except Sundays.  Time to set the egg timer just like my mother did growing up when we were practicing piano!
  • Go to the gym!  Transform yourself into that Folklorico Adonis! 
  • Develop better eating habits.  Establish a healthy diet.  I do great on the carbs.  Overload on them in fact.  Where's the protein? 
  • Have designs made up for decals and shirts. 
  • Print business card ads promoting the blog.
  • Get my teeth whitened.
  • Dye my grey hairs.
  • Research show venues.
Sounds like a good start.  I will be sure to give you an update on week 27!


Talk about immediate feedback!  I'm writing this on Thursday and last night I had my first practice with Images of Mexico.  My body is dying!  It's in shock.  Talk about a work out.  This is exactly what I need.  Last night's practice encompassed ballet, yoga, zumba and folklorico!  What a combo.  I'm feelin' it.  I even learned a new Jalisco dance!  Jalisco is always challenging for me.  This one is a fast one too.  Oh My, My! 

Also, this is my last week of classes for college!  Finals this week.  No more least for now.  Taking a break!


In closing, I want to share about the Tulip Time Festival in Holland Michigan.  The Holland Tulip Festival takes place every year in May.  I participated in the big Tulip Parade several times in High School with the marching band.  I also watched the parade on many other occasions. 

The component of the festival I remember the most is the dancers in the wooden shoes.  The Dutch love to clog in those!  Every year in Holland, Michigan the different dancing groups/chapters descend in mass to compete and show their clogging skills.  Always in full costume.  It's a little like square dancing at times.  And there's high kicks!  Sometimes they kick so high and forcefully that one of those wooden shoes take flight!  A wooden Dutch rocket!  Watch out!

As a child I always wanted a pair of those shoes.  I had no money, so I got this idea that I was going to make a pair.  My dad provided me with a piece of Poplar wood and I began to widdle.  It didn't long before I gave up on that.  Too much work.  I never got my wooden shoes.  Poor wedo.  A therapist would probably say that my folklorico dancing is the result of a suppressed childhood fascination with wooden shoes.   That explains everything!

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  I'm off to dance at the museum.  Have a great week....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.

No comments:

Post a Comment