Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Audition! - Week 47

Hello everyone and welcome back to One Big Wedo - the blog!  Here we are on week 47!  I call this one "The Audition"!  But before we get started, I want to give a special shout out and welcome to Columbia this week!  Thank you for reading!  I reached my goal for the year of 7500 pageviews this week!  That's five weeks early!  Let's see how high it goes.  Now I want to reach 200 likes on my Facebook page "One Big Wedo - Guero".  Do you like me?  Visit my Facebook today!

On October 10, 2013, Shawn Slater issued this official media release from Disney on the Disney Parks blog.  The post is called "Disney Viva Navidad Brings a Festive Celebration to Disney California Adventure Park"

Here is the article:

"It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Okay so it’s still Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, but behind the scenes, the Creative Entertainment team is already hard at work getting ready to deck the halls for the holidays. And this year, they’re bringing something new to Disney California Adventure park that’s sure to be fantástico – Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Brings a Festive Celebration to Disney California Adventure Park
Disney ¡Viva Navidad! will bring the Paradise Gardens area of the park to life with festive music, vibrant colors, jubilant dancing, character appearances, delicious food and fun activities for the whole family.

Several times each day, a high-energy street party takes over Paradise Gardens, led by the “Three Caballeros” – Donald Duck and his life-long amigos Panchito from Mexico and Jose Carioca from Brazil. The infectious mix of Mariachi and Samba musicians, folklórico and carnival dancers, 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets and those ambassadors of holiday cheer, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, will really get the crowd going, as Santa and Mrs. Claus join in to cheer and celebrate “¡Viva Navidad!

You won’t want to miss it! Disney ¡Viva Navidad! becomes part of the Holidays at  Disneyland Resort on November 15 and continues through January 6, 2014, with additional Three Kings Day celebrations January 3-6."

Sure sounds like a good time to me!  Can't wait to see the show live!  In my opinion, Disney has become a strong venue for Mexican entertainment here in Southern California  They have hosted many performances of Mexican music and dance through their Community Arts Showcase program, Three Kings Day performances, the recent Dia de Los Muertos holiday, and now Viva Navidad!  Hats off to Disney - A Mexican entertainment destination!

On October 6th & 7th on Relampago del Cielo, Inc.'s Facebook page, notices were posted for auditions for the show.  Auditions were held on October 9th.  Here is the official casting call ad:

After reading the requirements, I decided it was not for me as I work Monday thru Friday during the day.  I have had my career now for over 15 years, so leaving my job for roughly two months of performances was out of the question. So I put it out of mind and carried on with my life.  Then on October 11th, another post was listed for another round of auditions.  Again, I put it out of mind until I received a personal invite to the audition from a friend connected to the event.  Apparently, some weekend only performing opportunities may be available.  This sparked interest!  So, on Tuesday October 15th, Richard and I made our way to the audition held at the Orange County School of the Arts. Other dancing friends joined us too.  
The Orange County School of the Arts brought back so many memories of my days in music conservatory over 20 years ago.  It had that same familiar feeling.  Boy, doesn't that make me feel old!  Upon arrival, we made our way to the studio space where the audition was to be held.  There we were given a form to fill out in detail to share our performing and dance experience.  Once handed in, we were given a number to wear so we could be identified during the audition.

Now, that morning when I got up, I prepared myself for the audition!  How?  Well, I know I'm an old man already - especially for a dancer.  So I did it!  I painted my mustache and goatee with Just For Men Mustache & Beard dye!  In just five minutes, I took off ten years.  My first time ever to cover the gray like that. Usually I just use a pencil for something more temporary.  Anyways, I had a nice black patch on my chinny chin chin.  Now if it just removed wrinkles!  Botox here I come!

The audition entailed an introduction to the show and a little history of the "Three Caballeros", we listened to the music and were given an idea of what was to be expected.  Then for the next three hours we were drilled on technique and movement.  I actually enjoyed the experience of the audition.  I was exposed to many new technique building exercises and drills.  There were a few familiar faces there auditioning too.  I was definitely in the elders club.  A lot of these dancers were in their late teens to early 20's.  Many we're very accomplished, skilled, trained dancers.  Even so, there was a lot of variation between dancing styles, skirt movement, and footwork execution between the dancers who were from different groups and backgrounds.  It was somewhat sobering to be among such talent.  But the folks were friendly and had a good attitude with each other. I didn't feel judged.  I felt like we were all there together to get a job done.  On a personal note, I was happy that I was able to hold my own and that although my overall experience with folklorico dancing has been brief, I think I did well.

Before leaving and driving the long trip home, the men were instructed on the facial hair policy and that only a mustache would be allowed for all performances.  We were told if we received the call back, we would need to come to the practice the next day shaven and looking the way we would hope to be performing.  This way our picture could be taken and submitted for approval.  

On the way home we shared our excitement over this incredible opportunity.  Although the rehearsal schedule was aggressive, I was determined that if I got a call back I would go for it.  I would suck it up and pay the price for the opportunity.  Especially since they seemed to be willing to work with people's schedules and have some do weekends and holidays only.  At that point, all we could do is wait and see if we got a call back.

The next morning I got up and shaved of my goatee, leaving only my mustache.  If I got the call back, I would need to leave straight from work to head to Anaheim for practice.  I went to work and coworkers were shocked.  They said I looked like a entirely different person.   And of course, they joked and poked fun at me.  I was told I looked like the cat juggler from the movie The Jerk with Steve Martin, I was told I looked like Officer Dangle from Reno 911, I was also told I looked like Freddie Mercury from Queen.  Other folks thought I was getting a jump on Statchetober or Movember for prostate cancer awareness month.  Personally, I was aiming for more of a Inigo Montoya look from the movie The Princess Bride (previously thought to be Montego Montoya - thanks Ben for the correction!).  Folks were impressed I grew the statche so quickly.  I had to tell them that all I did was shave off the goat.  Oh yeah, and I darkened it! Shhhhhhh!  That's our little secret!  I'm only 29.  I think my nose just grew.


The wait sucked.  Hours passed while waiting for the call.  Friends that had auditioned with us were also waiting.  We kept checking in with each other to see if anyone had heard anything.  We were all on edge.  Every time my phone rang I thought "it's them!"  Funny how your mind plays games with you in these types of situations.  I spent the whole day contemplating everything that went on during the audition that might have ruined my chances.  The wait caused me to doubt myself and question if I was what they were looking for.  Work passed and still no call, so Richard and I went to eat.  It was almost time for practice to start and no call.  We still had to commute.  Do we just start going and hope to get the call on the way?  What to do?  

Finally, we got the call back came and were told to consider it for the next 24 hours.  We didn't need to go to practice that night since they were so late in getting back to us.  We were told to keep in mind that there was only a slight possibility for weekends only.  So Richard and I pondered the situation.  And we came to the conclusion that it wasn't right for us.  I wasn't willing to pay the price on just a maybe.  The rehearsal schedule was so aggressive that I would have literally gotten no sleep between my job, practices, and the commute for two weeks straight.  No joke.  So I called back, thanked them and declined.  

Now I want to mention that there are always people that will pay the price.  There are lots of terrific opportunities, but are you willing to pay the price?  Even when there is financial compensation for dancing folklorico, it is often not enough to really compensate you for all the time, effort an expense you put into it.  A while back I got paid for a televised show.  Yes, I got paid, but it cost me a whole day of waiting around just for that brief moment.  It was a long day.  Incredible opportunity, but it wasn't worth the pay.  I did it for the bragging rights!

Back in the day, I had some good friends named Chris and Peri Alcaide.  They have both passed away.  Peri owned Peri's Pictures of Hollywood and Chris was an actor.  He was in many movies and on television.  One show he played on was The Riflemen.  He did a lot of western roles.  I spent a lot of time with them in their senior years at their home in Palm Springs.  Anyway, I asked him once what it was like to be a big actor and the experience of television and movies.  I remember he told me that I "wouldn't like it.  Many people find I boring because you wait around a lot.  It's not what most people imagine it would be like. Yes, you get your moment, but It's not nearly as glamorous as people think."

On week 37 I wrote about my experience performing at California Adventure with BF Sol de Mexico as part of Disney's Community Arts Showcase.  Check it out.  Although I let this new opportunity to return and perform there again pass me by, another opportunity surfaced!  An email came to Richard for Herencia to go and perform on a weekend as part of the holiday events at the park - 6 shows!  So we submitted an application.  You'll have to check back on week 51 for more on all that!

Back to Viva Navidad.  I wasn't too familiar with the story and movie of the "Three Caballeros", so I had to research it online.  According to Wikipedia, here is some history on the "Three Caballeros":

"The Three Caballeros is a 1944 American animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Productions.  The film premiered in Mexico City on December 21, 1944.  It was released in the United States on February 3, 1945 and in the UK that March.  The seventh animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film plots an adventure through parts of Latin America, combining live-action and animation.  This is the second of the Disney package films of the 1940s

The film is plotted as a series of self-contained segments, strung together by the device of Donald Duck opening birthday gifts from his Latin American friends.  Several Latin American stars of the period appear, including singers Aurora Miranda (sister of Carmen Miranda) and Dora Luz, as well as dancer Carmen Molina

The film was produced as part of the studio's good will message for South America, but is less obvious propagandistic than others.  The film again starred Donald Duck, who in the course of the film is joined by old friend, Jose Carioca, the cigar-smoking parrot from Saludos Amigos (1942) representing Brazil, and later makes a new friend in the persona of pistol-packing rooster Panchito Pistoles, representing Mexico.

It was severely edited and re-released in featurette form on April 15. 1977 to accompany a re-issue of Never a Dull Moment."

Sounds like I'm going to go get me a copy of the movie or rent one on Netflix or something.  It sounds interesting and I would like to see the whole film.

Richard found this YouTube video clip of a segment of the movie where there is Veracruz folklorico! Here is the link to check it out (You may need to copy and paste the link in your browser to get it to work or look up "Three Caballeros - Lilongo" on YouTube):

Here is a photo of me when I was a youngster.  It was my birthday and look at the cake.  Yes, it's Donald Duck!  I suppose some would claim that it was set in my destiny to be part of a production that centers around Donald Duck one day.  I'm excited to be part of associated performances that are part of the overall event!  If your in So Cal on December 21 or 22, come on out to the park and see us perform.  How special to be performing on the 69th anniversary of the movie's release in Mexico City on December 21st.  

My family has always enjoyed Disney.  Growing up, we would go to Walt Disney World in Florida almost every year.  They even bought a timeshare next door at Orange Lake.  In fact, I still recall how we used the ride ticket books that Disney had for rides.  Now that dates me!  I loved the Dumbo ride as a kid.  Another memory I have was the Pointer Sisters singing for a Disney television special and the Neutron Dance Electrical Parade Special.  My parents still go to Disney World every year for Mickey's Christmas Party.  We are a Disney family!

Last week Viva Navidad premiered!  There was lots of media coverage for the big kickoff of the festival street party show - the same one we auditioned for!  If you go and visit the park, you can see this same street party take place several times each day!  Here is a video from YouTube of the show (you may need to copy and paste the link in your browser for it to work or visit YouTube and search for "DCA:  Viva Navidad Street Party"):

Gotta say, they did a great job!  You can also find several photos and videos on The Mariachi Divas Facebook page and on YouTube.  In addition, check out these sites for more information on the show:  So Cal Theme Parks 360 and

Now on the informal side, on a recent trip to the Disneyland Park, we stopped in at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.  Back in the day there use to be saloon dance shows at the Golden Horseshoe, complete with the Can-Can. These days the shows are less risque and more Wild West themed comedy sketches with some audience participation.  Of all the people they picked from the audience, guess who was picked?  Yep me.  My big Disney acting debut!  My big line was "I'll drink to that!"  Check out these photos of our visit and my performance!


In closing I want to thank Jarritos sodas for their ongoing support of Hernecia Mexicana!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!  I encourage everyone to support and drink Jarritos so they can continue supporting groups like ours!  

That's it everyone.  Hope you enjoyed it and come back next week! Have a great Thanksgiving. Wedo out!

HEY! Come see us on December 14th at 7pm!

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

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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.


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