Friday, September 27, 2013

The Power In Believing - Week 39

Hello Singapore!  Welcome to the fourth quarter of the One Big Wedo Blog!  Here we are at week 39 already!  Only 13 posts left.  I can hardly believe that the year is coming to an end.  It will be 2014 before we know it.  I have plenty of good material for all the remaining posts and hope I can fit it all in by the end.  So without further delay, let's get started.

This week's blog is called "The Power In Believing".  In addition to the topic of belief, I hope to touch on several others including motivation, criticism, the qualities of a professional and more!  A whole lot of personal thoughts for you to contemplate.

I Believe

Recently, I had someone ask me if I actually believed that the ideas I've presented here in my blog could really happen.  There are the movie ideas, show ideas and all the ones presented in my post on week 35 called "Ideas For Folklorico".  If you have been consistently reading over the past 38 weeks, then you're familiar with all of them.  I'm full of ideas!  My reply back to them was, "Yes, I believe anything is possible!  It could happen!"

As I have said in the past, folklorico is harder than it appears.  That's my opinion anyways.  Dancers do an excellent job making it look so easy.  When I first started, Richard was constantly correcting me and challenging me.  Whenever I would say, "I can't" or "I've tried that already and it doesn't work" or any other variation of the excuse, he was always quick to tell me not to say that and to try again.  He would say, "If you tell yourself "you can't", you never will.  Rather say, you're not there yet.  Bring what you can.  You have to push yourself."  

I have often observed how many dancers have limited themselves by not pushing their own limits and/or trying new things, myself included.  It may be uncomfortable at the moment, but it will ultimately lend to a better performance and personal growth.  Everyone loves their comfort zone.  But change and development often takes you out of that zone.  The Bottom line is if you say you can't, you won't!  But if you change your attitude, you open the door for possibility.

In the beginning, I would often get frustrated and discouraged.  Truth is, I still do at times.  When things would get overwhelming and seem hopeless, I would be ready to quit.  Actually, I think I did quit at least a dozen times in the first few weeks.  At times, I would ask myself, "What are you doing Mike?"  Although I drove him crazy, Richard was always there to tell me, "Don't give up.  Don't get discouraged.  Stick with it.  You'll get there.  You just need to give it time and practice.  Just be patient."

People often limit themselves by what they believe.  I have often heard the phrase, "What you believe about yourself, you will become."  In other words, "If you don't believe it can happen, that you can do it, or you can be it, chances are it or you won't"  This causes me to ask myself the question, "How many times have I missed out on an opportunity because I failed to believe?  Have I held myself back?"  I need to believe more in myself and that I can do it so I don't miss out on opportunities and can be the best that I can be.

There is another famous quote that you have probably heard before, "All things are possible to him [or her] that believes."  Are you familiar with that one?  There are power in words and when we say we "can't", we give our words power over us and become defeated.  

Oftentimes, when we say "can't", we really mean "I don't want to"!  Change is often uncomfortable, especially when it addresses our habits and behaviors.   It's funny how we pad our words, rationalize, compromise and justify ourselves in our minds to the point of convincing ourselves we are incapable. In my case, I have had to work extra hard on "the white gene".  You've heard me speak of this in the past.  Truth is, it has been uncomfortable at times to overcome and push past those areas of challenge in my life to become a better dancer.  There are plenty of areas for improvement that remain.  There's work to be done.

Richard's words of encouragement and correction have been instrumental in changing my focus from "can't" to "it's possible".  I can do things now that I never thought I would be able to do.  There were dances and steps I thought were hopeless and impossible for me to learn and execute in the beginning.  Over the course of time, I learned them!  It feels good to do something you once thought impossible.  It encourages you to keep striving to be better.  I'm still working on certain steps and dances in hopes of conquering them.  It is an ongoing process.

This whole concept of belief can be applied to our own personal lives as well. Here is something to ponder:  What you belief about yourself, whether it be right or wrong, truth or deception, will ultimately rule your life and determine the course of your behavior.  Now think about that!  It's kind of heavy, so I'm moving on.  But take some time to think about it.


One thing I have learned in this dancing journey is that you need to be able to take criticism.  You got to be tough!  Everyone has their opinion of you out there and chances are they will express it at some point.  Oftentimes, directors and instructors critique you with the intent of helping you become better. Then there are those who are simply vindictive and vicious.  Sadly, many of the comments and criticisms from other dancers are often of this nature.  Dancers can be ruthless and heavily critical of one another, especially between different dance groups.  This is something that I have observed first hand on several occasions.  Can't we all just get along?  

I always know what people think of me simply by their words, whether spoken directly to me or behind my back!  I have found that many dancers are quick to judge.  There always seems to be unnecessary tension when dance groups are around each other.  Because of this, I  try to be extra nice!  Even my kindness has been judged and mocked.  As far as people's criticisms are concerned, I have heard everything from "he's got potential" to others that were well disguised as compliments, but had an underlying negative implication.  I can appreciate someone being direct and honest with me, but a lot of what people say is really unnecessary or an unsolicited evaluation/opinion.  Moving on.

Give It A Try!
I am a Facebook enthusiast!  Ok fine, addict!  I subscribe to all kinds of "quotes of the day" and "positive affirmation" pages.  I often share them on my timeline.  Recently, I have seen many about "trying", "attempting", and "effort".  In fact, here are a couple for your consideration:

It never ceases to amaze me how many people won't even try things.  Even in the dancing world, people often won't take risks.  This can limit and cripple the potential in a person.  My approach is, "Why not!  I'll give it a shot!  I have nothing to lose!"  I often hear excuses like, "I tried that in the past" or "It doesn't work for me" or "I'm not comfortable with that" or "I don't like that" and so on. Sounds like variations of "I can't" to me.  I was taught at an early age, "don't let your past and failures be your excuse for your future."

When I was applying for colleges, one school I considered was Juilliard in New York City.  I recall that part of their application process included auditioning and interviews.  One specific area they evaluated was "willingness to take risks". I didn't go to Juilliard, but I did study music elsewhere. Part of my training included improvisational skill building which required you to make an effort and take risks.  It was awkward at times, but it helped me grow.
Another quote I use to hear often was, "It is better to try and fail than fail to try."  I encourage everyone to "try" folklorico dancing.  "Give it a try!"  I encourage dancers to try new things out for their benefit and growth.  If you fail, try again and take a new approach.  Never give up!  To fail to try, or try repeatedly, is to accept failure and defeat!  Why not try, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Now let's take this whole "trying" concept a little further!  Let's move to the realm of "doing"!  I guess I must be full of quotes this week cause here's another one for you!  "Never mistake activity for accomplishment."  That's a sobering comment, isn't it?  It really made me stop and evaluate what I have actually accomplished during my folklorico journey. There has been a lot of activity, including practices and performances, but what have I truly accomplished?  What have I gained?  What's the criteria for actually "accomplishing" something? These are some of the questions I asked myself.  So what's my conclusion?  Michael, you've come a long way, you have a lot further to go.  Keep going!

Just Do It & Do It Well!

At some point in life you want to crossover from the realm of trying to actually doing.  Although trying is good and shows you have intent, doing actually shows that you've gone beyond trying and followed through.  Doing shows the level of commitment and dedication you have.  I have seen it where dancers get annoyed with other dancers, who have paid the price and worked relentlessly to build their skills and technique.  I think there is a bit of envy in their reaction.  Rather than appreciate the skill, they seek to bring the individual down.  I wish people would be more supportive, especially when they share a common interest and are involved in the same art, perhaps even the same group.

For me, I want to be the person that I claim to be.  Whatever that is!  I was always told that "words are cheap" and "actions speak louder than words".  Oh no, more quotes!  Anyone can do words, few follow through to action.  I'm getting to the point in my journey where I want to do things well consistently.  I want good performances on a consistent basis.  The best performances I've had come from aggressive practicing and focus.  Even if the performance is at short notice.  Preparation has been key.

It's ironic that when someone calls for a show, they often request dances that we're currently not working on. Whatever we are focusing on at the moment, usually is fine tuned and looking good.  So their request results either in brushing up on some of the classic dances previously learned or learning new dances altogether.  From my experience, I feel that I do better learning completely new dances at the last minute rather than "dusting off" a dance I already know.  I wonder why that is!  You would think that I would be better with the dances I already know.  Hmmmmm.  What's that about?  

I suppose I could mark it up to being a beginner, lacking experience.  Perhaps, my short term memory is better than my long term.  I have seen other dancers struggle with this as well.  This common behavior drives directors nuts because it's nearly impossible to always practice the same dances and still move forward and learn new material.  I think it's human nature to forget if your focus isn't on something regularly.  I might be wrong.  Sounds like I'm starting to make excuses again.  There is a big difference between being an amateur and being a professional.  Perhaps that's the reason.  Let's explore what makes a person a professional at something.

What Makes Someone A Professional?

Over the past couple years, I have had the privilege of sharing the stage with many talented, skilled, trained dancers.  Many that I would consider to be professionals.  It has been a challenging experience to hold my own on stage during a performance, dancing next to these people.  Ultimately, I think it has caused me to advance and progress a little quicker than some.  I like that benefit.

So what makes someone a professional in your opinion?  I asked people this question and got a whole slew of responses.  Here is a few of the responses I got, check and see if you agree.  

1.)  A professional is someone who is financially compensated for what they do.  If they do something to the degree where they are paid for doing it, then they must be professional at it.

2.)  A professional is someone who has so much experience in a given field of study that they stand above the rest.

3.)  A professional is someone who is skilled and learned in a particular area that execute their craft with excellence.

4.)  A professional is someone who holds a position or place in a specific field.  They have earned status and respect and therefore hold a place above others and serve as models.

5.)  A professional is someone who does something as their primary main occupation rather than just a past time hobby.

6.)  A professional is someone who commits so deeply to something that it becomes their passion.  Their intense pursuit shows that they have a deeper desire for it, rather than those who treat it as common.

The list goes on and on.  I tend to agree in part with all the definitions.  My definition of a professional would be a person that stands above what is common.  They have achieved a level of excellence through experience, training and skill building, natural talent, or a combination of these.  They learn quickly, adapt and retain information.  They execute excellence under pressure.  They deliver.  They engage on a level that exceeds what most commonly do.  They treat what they do more seriously than just as a hobby or fun activity.

I am always amazed at these folks who can come to a practice and the teacher shows them the dance in a few minutes and they can turn around and execute it flawlessly right after it is shown to them. Obviously they are highly skilled, talented individuals.  They are ready for the stage after one short practice.  They perform the dance for one show and they are off to their next dance group adventure. If you see them years later, they will still remember the dance they learned and can execute it flawlessly.  These people are professionals.  You may think this is extreme, but these people exist. Hats off to them.  

One more thing to mention before moving forward, the "it" factor.  Some people possess that rare showmanship quality that is referred to as the "it" factor.    They take it up a notch.  They are those individuals that steal the show and grab everyone's attention.  You'll know it, when you see it. So look for it!

What's Your Motive?

Recently, I found myself asking the question, "Why?"  Why do I dance folklorico and what's my motivation to do it?  It was at an outdoor show, in the direct sunlight, hot as you can imagine.  We were dancing for a small crowd and the sweat was running down my forehead and into my eyes.  My eyes were burning!  I was miserable.  So why do this?  

I have several reasons why I dance folklorico.  Initially I was curious and wanted to try it out.  It gave me something to do and occupied time.  I had lots of time on my hands!  I enjoy doing it.  It's fun.  I also have this hoarder characteristic about me.  I think I enjoy collecting costumes and adding to my list  of performances and venues.  But, I have always said my main reason and motivation to dance is Richard.  I wanted to spend time with him, get involved in his world and make him proud.  I guess I needed to prove to myself and to him that I could do it.  It's no secret that he doesn't like that I use him as my reason for dancing.  Regardless, it's the truth.  He always says, "Dance because you want to dance and because you enjoy it, don't dance for me."  Why not both!


For the most part, folklorico dancing is a labor of love and a carrying on of tradition and culture.  However, some financial compensation can be gained for those who aggressively pursue and dedicate themselves to performing.  If someone is interested in folklorico simply for the financial benefit however, I would have to advise them not to pursue it as I feel it requires a greater financial investment than return.  Personal gratification and enjoyment is a much better motive.   

There are performances and regular gigs that pay.  Typically not that much however.  Not as much as you might think for being "entertainment."  Instructors earn some money from lessons and workshops.  Folklorico dancing is more of a passion that's done in addition to a regular full time job and/or career.  Certainly there are a handful of teachers and dancers in touring groups that rely solely on their dancing for income.  But in the world of folklorico, I would have to say that is not the norm.  If you can make a living solely from folklorico dancing, you are doing very well for yourself.  

The Cost

What are some of the expenses for a dancer?  Well first there is the cost of lessons and studio rental fees.  These are usually included in the monthly membership dues to belong to an academy or company.  Then there is all the expense of the costumes, which in folklorico, there are many.  Not only do you pay for the costumes, but the upkeep of them as well - tailoring, dry cleaning, replacing damaged lace, zippers, buttons and fabric.  Part of the costume includes all the props and accessories like fans, jewelry, ties, hats, hairpieces, make up and so on.  The list is extensive!  Folklorico shoes and boots need replacement and repair as they wear out.  Shoe polish and paint is another expense. There is the cost of gas to travel to and from performances and practices.  At the end of the day, it all adds up!  

Another investment dancers make is time.  The time away from family and friends is a cost few consider.  Many of the professional performers I know sacrifice family events and weekend fun festivities for shows and events.  You miss out on a lot of personal events and activities with friends. Performers who work regularly on the weekends in venues, like restaurants, that have a set show schedule, pay a huge price.  Although they are compensated financially, they completely sacrifice their weekends almost entirely.  Certainly, it's understandable why many get burned out over a long period of time.

Granted there are those groups out there for recreation purposes only.  And taking lessons for simple enjoyment and exercise is common and becoming more and more popular.  Just remember if your joining a performing group however, you'll be performing - so be prepared for what comes with it!  It's important to grasp a full understanding of the commitment required before getting involved.  

Closing Thought

In closing, I think it's funny how things work out in life.  Seems like people often end up doing things that they didn't initially set out to do.  When I was at Wheaton studying opera, a guest came to speak. He was a professional opera singer.  When asked how he got there in life, he shared how he never intended being an opera singer.  He never studied music.  He had no professional training.  Rather, he set out in life to be a professional football player.  He was on course to be a football player when his friend asked him to sing at his wedding.  He agreed and at the wedding one of the attendees was a person in the opera field.  After hearing him sing, they offered him a career in opera.  He took it and now he does it for a living. 

 I may not be a professional or anything close, but I never thought I'd be dancing!  I wanted to be an opera singer.  Folklorico has made up for my failed attempt to be an opera star.  Probably someone out there is singing opera that wanted to dance folklorico instead!  I hope they are enjoying themselves!  

That's all for this week. Check back next week for the Fair show blog!  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

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.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fiestas Patrias & El Grito - Week 38

Happy Mexican Independence Day!  September 16th marked the day and people celebrated all over the world.  Of course, many celebrated all weekend long!  There were celebrations and cultural expressions of Mexico in varied form all over, especially here in Southern California.  Often a busy time for the folklorico dancer.  Ironically for me, however, I had the weekend off!

Along with the holiday, comes its traditions and terminology.  This year, more so than in the past, I noticed many advertisements for "Fiestas Patrias" celebrations.  It has probably always been announced like that in the past, I just haven't paid much attention.  This year, it caught my eye and I found myself asking, "What exactly is this "Fiestas Patrias" they speak of?"  So a hunt ensued and in just one Google search, I instantly became a 30 second expert on the subject.  Here is what I discovered.

The term "Fiestas Patrias", according to Wikipedia, is "a Spanish phrase meaning "Patriotic Holidays" or "National Holidays"."  The term is used in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Guatemala. Wikipedia goes on to state, "Fiestas Patrias in Mexico originated in the 19th century and are observed today as five public holidays."  The five public holidays are Aniversario de la Constitucion, Natalicio de Benito Juarez, Dia del Trabajo, Grito de Delores y Aniversario de la Independencia, and the Aniversario de la Revelucion.

Now on week 19, I wrote a post called "Cinco de Mayo".  Many Americans often confuse Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day and celebrate it heavily.  In fact, Wikipedia states this in the definition of Fiestas Patrias, "Contrary to common misconception in the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's "Independence Day", but rather commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  In contrast to Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo is observed mostly at a local level (Puebla State) and is a minor Bank Holiday in the rest of Mexico.  Many labor unions have negotiated to have the day off, however, since its proximity to Labor Day (May 1) often allows an extended five day weekend or two consecutive three day weekends."

Now you may have noticed that Grito de Delores and Aniversario de la Independencia are coupled together.  So I wanted some clarification and discovered this explanation of the two.  Thank you Wikipedia!  What would I do without you?  "Grito de Delores (on the evening of September 15) and Aniversario de la Independencia (September 16) commemorate Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's Grito de Delores - on September 16, 1810, in the village of Delores, near Guanajuanto.  Hidalgo called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico.  On October 18, 1825, the Republic of Mexico officially declared September 16 it's National Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia).  Mexican Independence Day, also referred to as Dieciseis de Septiembre, is celebrated from the evening of September 15 with a re-creation of the Grito de Delores by all executive office-holders (from the President of the Republic down to municipal presidents) and lasts through the night."

As I mentioned earlier, there were celebrations all over California, including one big one in downtown Los Angeles.  I have heard the reading/proclamation of the El Grito in the past, including at a performance last year at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood.  My curiosity moved me to explore more about the El Grito and here is what I found.  Again, Wikipedia explains, "The Grito de Delores ("Cry of Delores" [also referred to as "Scream of Delores" and "The Cry Of Pain"]), was uttered from the small town of Delores, near Guanajuanto, on September 16, 1810.  It is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.  The "Grito" was the pronunciamento of the Mexican War Of Independence by Migual Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest.  Since October 1825, the anniversary of the event is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day."

The exact text of this most famous of all Mexican speeches is not known, and a wide variety of “reconstructed” versions have been published.  It is said that there are as many variations as there are historians to reproduce them.  There's a good possibility you won't hear the same exact version twice. Here is a brief segment of the speech I found, that is common:

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Víva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!

Here are a few YouTube video links I found on El Grito de Delores.  These videos are in Spanish as I didn't find anything available in English.  If you don't speak or understand Spanish, like me, you'll still enjoy the pictures!  Check them out:



Now before we move on, I want to clarify that there is a difference between the Grito de Delores and a Grito Mexicano or Mexican gritos that are commonly heard at parties and Mexican themed events. In fact, quite often you will hear folklorico dancers belt them out during the course of a show, along with Spanish cheers - amongst my favorite is "Viva Los Gueros!"  Wikipedia even speaks of these Mexican gritos and states this:

"Grito Mexicano (Mexican Scream), or simply Grito, is a part of Mexican culture. 
It is similar to the yahoo or yeehaw of the American cowboy during a hoedown, except with added trills and an onomatopoeia closer to "aaah" or "aaaayyyyeeee".  In Mexico's culture it's usually performed by a singer after singing a patriotic song, or a very excited member of a crowd, it is done immediately prior to the popular Mexican war cry: "Viva Mexico, cabrones!" (Long live Mexico, [word not included]!).  Or for a toast, in its family friendly version, "Viva Mexico, Senores" (Long Live Mexico, gentlemen). the first sound is typically held as long as possible, leaving enough breath for a trailing set of trills.  The Grito is sometimes used as part of the officially celebratory remembrance of Mexican Independence Day, as in the Grito de Delores.  In some non-formal settings, the Grito is belted at parties and friends or family celebrations.  The normal position for the yell to be inserted (either by the singers themselves or the listening audience) is at a musical interlude or bridge or after the first few notes of a familiar song."

Gritos in folklorico are often varied and not as dramatic as these in this YouTube video:  
Since we're at it already, let's get a definition of the other four Fiestas Patrias holidays listed above. Here is the definitions of the other holidays as explained by, you guessed it, Wikipedia!

Aniversario de la Constitucion:  This day (English:  Anniversary of the Constitution) commemorates the Constitution of 1917, promulgated after the Mexican Revolution on February 5.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the first Monday of February (regardless of date) will be an official holiday in Mexico.  This was a modification of the law made in 2005, effective in 2006; before, it was the February 5th regardless of the day.

Natalicio de Benito Juarez:  This day (English:  Birth of Benito Juarez) commemorates President Benito Juarez's birthday on March 21, 1806.  Juarez is popularly regarded as an exemplary politician because of his liberal policies that, among other things, defined the traditionally strict separation of the church and the Mexican state.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the third Monday of march (regardless the date) will be N official holiday of Mexico.  As with Constitution Day, the holiday was originally celebrated every year on the same date (March 21), but the federal labor law was modified in 2005 so the holiday is always celebrated on a Monday.
Dia del Trabajo:  Dia del Trabajo (English: Labor Day) commemorates the Mexican workers' union movements on May 1 - specifically, the 1906 Cananea, Sonora, and the 1907 Rio Blanco, Veracruz, labor unrest and repression.
Aniversario de la Revolucion:  This day commemorates the Mexican Revolution which started on November 20, 1910 when Francisco I. Madero planned an uprising against dictator Porfirio Diaz's 31-year-long iron rule.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the third Monday of November (regardless the date) will be an official holiday in Mexico.  This was a modification of the law made in 2005, effective since 2006; before then, it was November 20 regardless of the day, and all schools gave extended holidays if the day was a Tuesday or Thursday. Although November 20 is the official day, the uprising started on different days in different parts of the country.

Wow, wow, wow!  That is a lot of history and information for one week isn't it?  Overload!  But now you know!  Perhaps you already did!  Nonetheless, I hope you learned something from it.

On week 35 I wrote a blog called "Ideas For Folklorico".  In the blog I presented an idea for pop star Madonna for her next Los Angeles tour visit.  Funny how the recent holiday inspired Madonna MX on Facebook to post several photos of the icon in Mexican attire.  Perhaps, my idea wasn't as original as I thought.  Although the pictures appear possibly photoshopped.  Or perhaps her marketing and publicity people have made sure she has engaged her Mexican audience.  You decide!  Take a look
Regardless, I still home to receive a call from the Material Girl any day now so we can get started on my idea!  Sorry Madonna if I missed your call, I've been busy practicing for the Fair!  Don't be shy to leave a message, I'll call you back!

In other news, the blog reached an audience of over 5000 pageviews this week!  That's amazing!  A great big thank you to everyone who has shared the blog with others.  I want to welcome the students from Roy Lazano's Ballet Folklorico de Texas and Ballet Folklorico at St. Edward's University in Austin Texas to the blog.  I appreciate your email and feedback this week and encourage other readers to contact me as well.  Please join my Facebook page - One Big Wedo (Guero) and "like" it. You can also recommend the page to your friends by sending them an "invite".  I've reached 150 people already, lets add some more!

In closing, it never ceases to amaze me how life has a way of working things out.  As many of you following the blog know, I write this posts on my iPhone.  The added time it takes to do so, has led to some time management issues and late publishing.  Well, problem resolved!  I started carpooling and now I have about an hour or so wait after work to write while I wait for my ride.  That's a good thing. Starbucks has become my new after work writing workshop!  Coffee + iPhone + Wedo = a blog for your reading enjoyment and entertainment.  Lucky you!

That's all for this week everyone!  See you at the fair!  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

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.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dancing At Disney California Adventure - Week 37

In the midst of summer, another invitation came from Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico to join them for a couple of their upcoming performances.  You may recall my first account of performing with them back on week 16 in a post called "Heart & Sol".  That post holds the rank as the #2 all time most read blog post.  Anyway, first up on the calendar this time, Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California.  So Richard and I found ourselves once again at practices at the Sol studio in Riverside, California on Monday nights.  There was just one catch, they wanted me to dance Jalisco!

Now, if you have followed my blog, you know how I am challenged with Jalisco.  You also know my rule of dancing regions with other dance groups that I dance with BF Herencia Mexicana.  Why?  Because learning multiple variations of the same dance for the same region can lead to confusion!  What to do?  Break the rule!  Alright I'll do it!  Besides, the best thing you can do for something you struggle with is to tackle it head on.  Right?  I was up to the challenge.  Plus, I haven't had a performance since Colorado and this was Disney after all.  You can't pass up an opportunity like that!  And I had never been to California Adventure either.  Besides, it was only two dances to completely different music arrangements, so I accepted the invite.  Have I justified myself enough?  Thank you Sol for the invite and this fun filled opportunity!

Between practices with BF Sol de Mexico, BF Herencia Mexicana and Images Of Mexico, along with the heat in the warehouse, I lost some weight!  The week before the show I got my official BF Sol de Mexico T-shirt, Size Large!  Not XL or XXL!  Whoop Whoop!  I feel official and skinny!  The best compliment I got from the show was that my stomach looked flat in my charro!  That made my day!  I was so flat-tered by the compliment!  Of course, that didn't deter me from visiting Ghirardelli Chocolates at the park.  They give out free samples by the way!

Since September was booking up with lots of performances, it was time for some new dance boots to perform in.  I have been using the same pair since I started this journey back in 2011 and they are worn and dull.  Folklorico boots can be costly.  Rather than buying the more expensive Miguelito's or Duran dance boots, I went with the Karina's Dance Shoes brand.  They're more affordable and are durable.  Plus, when you are dancing all over the place for both private and public events, a lot of times you end up dancing on concrete which eats your boots up quick.  Which means you have to replace them more often.  So Karina's are the shoes for me!

Here are some photos of my new boots. Aren't they nice and shiny?  Let's see how long that lasts!  I kept my old boots for practices.  Might as well keep them around until they are completely shot and fall right off my feet!  I want to get my monies worth!  My new boots are for performances only!  My new black boots were christened at Disney, now that's a great start!  

I don't think I've ever shared with readers the boots themselves in detail.  Folklorico boots are a form of musical instrument in my opinion.  The dancer creates music with them as they tap away!  What causes the noise?  Nails!  That's right, nails!  Check it out, the heel and toe of the boots are nailed to death!  That's what creates all the sounds when you are dancing!  There are all kinds of foot movements, steps and tricks to cause the sound to vary.  Maestros "tap" into this possibility to create masterful musical dance art.  And you just thought we were all just stompin' our feet!  There is a skill and artistry to it!

Back to Disney!  The Disney Community Arts Showcase is a program that the theme parks offer to Southern California performers of various kinds - dancers, singers, musicians and the like.  The program is a fun opportunity for groups to present their material at the park to an audience composed of visitors and locals.  Several folklorico groups have participated in this program.  Not surprising, as folklorico is part of the Greater LA and So. Cal culture and visitors here typically want to experience the local culture as part of their vacations!

The day began bright and early!  The park opened at 9 am sharp and we were there ready!  We had a few hours of free time until showtime, so we did the whole park thing!  Here's some pictures of our California Adventure adventure!  I really enjoyed my first visit to the park!  My first purchase of the day?  A hat!  All that white turns red in the sun!

There are so many more Disney characters now than when I was a kid.  What ever happened to Chip and Dale?  Are they still around?  Guess Richard could be Chip and I will be Dale.  Together we'd make Chippendales!  Now there's a show for you!  But not at Disney!  It's all about family entertainment!

As showtime neared, we all met together and took a group photo before heading backstage to get dressed for our performance.  Check it out:

Once backstage, we were told no personal photos were to me taken.  However, Disney's photographer took this photo of us right before we headed out to the stage!  See if you can spot me in the picture!

The show took place on the Hollywood Backlot Stage.  Our time slot:  12:50pm! Fortunately, the stage is nicely covered and away from direct sunlight.  It was still toasty however.  Not even the daily heat endurance test at the warehouse was enough to prepare me.  Heat zaps your energy away, let me tell you!  Even still, it didn't stop us and the show went well.  

Sol presented the regions of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Jalisco.  Here are some pictures of my performance of the Jalisco closing of the show.  So thrilled to have this experience!  Sol uses blue bow ties and a sash as part of the charro ensemble!

I've mentioned in a previous post how much I enjoy Sol's Baja dances.  Add their Tamaulipas dances to that list!  Choreographer Stevan Flores did an amazing job on these dances.  Great movement and use of the stage and I really was captivated by them.  Perhaps, I'll get a chance to perform them one day with their group!  Herencia dances the Tamaulipas region, but not these specific dances, so we're safe!

After the show we exited the stage, changed, the rest of the day was ours!  But before we took off, Disney presented the group with this plaque for their participation in the program.  Thank you Disney!  There are some additional potential performances for me coming up between now and the end of the year at Disney.  I will be sure to keep everyone informed.  "Like" my Facebook page "One Big Wedo - Guero" to get performance notices and Big Wedo photos!  

As I shared last week, Disney animator Cynn Marie sketched this drawing of me at the park.  Wanted to reshare it just in case some of you missed last week's post.  If you did, well go back and read it!  Don't miss out!

As I also mentioned in last week's post, I performed with Ballet Folklorico Mi Tierra at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, California on Sunday for the Festival Colimense.  There were some Latin celebrities there and the show was televised on Estrella TV.  Here are some photos from the show!  This was my first time dancing with Ballet Folklorico Mi Tierra and I thought my personal performance ranked right up there among my own personal best!  It was my first time performing Colima as well !

I wanted to recommend a Facebook page.  Visit and "Like" Dia de Los Muertos USA.  This is a new event coming to Cochella Valley in November 2014.  I found some of their posts and links interesting.  You might also!  Check it out.

I want to personally thank all the people who have contributed to all my blogging success by sharing and promoting/recommending my blog.  Also, thanks to all the media websites and pages that have endorsed it as well. Brazil checked in this week!  Welcome!  My hope is that I contribute to the overall general interest in this fun art form and spark people's interest in learning more and perhaps, trying it out themselves!

Best moment of the weekend?  Performing, yes!  But the best was a little boy who came to talk to me at the show who was in awe of my height.  As I stood there in my charro suit, his mother encouraged him to take an interest in folklorico too.  Mission accomplished!  Perhaps I just found my replacement!  Awesome!  

In closing, I want to share this picture of "the shoe"!  Now I have told readers that something always seems to happen that you didn't anticipate at every show.  For this dancer at Disney, it was a broken heel!  During the course of dancing, it snapped right off!  Wow!  Better a folklorico shoe than Cinderella's glass slippers!  That would have been a disaster!  Until next week my peeps, 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

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.