Friday, August 30, 2013

Ideas For Folklorico - Week 35

Hello!  Welcome back!  Hopefully I will publish this week on schedule!  Don't want to fall behind again.  My first reader from Israel checked in this week!  Welcome aboard the journey!  Always, lots going on!  Next week's post will reveal the logo contest winner!  Be sure to check back and find out who won and the logo that I selected!

It never ceases to amaze me all the feedback, folklorico headlines and media people forward to me.  I get emails and Facebook messages all the time from people asking me if I have seen this video or read that article?  I enjoy all the stuff people have shared with me.  This week I am going to share some of these things with you and more ideas of my own.  I already pitched the movie idea, but wait! There's more!  Let's get started!
 

Recently on America's Got Talent, this folklorico trio performed.  Congratulations  guys!  Click on the link below to view the YouTube video.  What great exposure for folklorico!

Ballet Folklorico Mestizo - Machete

Another television show that I have been waiting to see folklorico dancing on is Dancing With The Stars.  Apparently in Mexico, there is a similar sort of show.  And guess what?  Yep, they do folklorico dancing!  Click on the links below to view some of the YouTube videos of the show.  The show is called "Mexico Baila".
 
Veracruz
Tamaulipas

I had my own idea for a television show for Spanish television.  My concept was called "Folklorico Battle"!  Folklorico Battle would be a show where people, without folklorico experience per say, learn folklorico routines to famous songs.  Then they compete live against each other, battling it out for the title!  A panel of judges decides who performs the best and selects the winner from the group of contestants.  But wait, there's a catch!  The winner has to duke it out on the dance floor against the Wedo!  "Bring out the Wedo," everyone shouts!  The Wedo comes out and tries to out dance the contestant in a dance both learn the week of the show.  In other words they, "Dance for their life!"  The audience votes and if the contestant wins, they get a cash prize.  If the Wedo wins, he gloats in his victory.

Someone mentioned to me that the blog itself would make an interesting reality tv show.  People would enjoy seeing me getting my butt kicked at practices and then going out and performing, as well as seeing all the behind the scenes costume prepping and dancer drama.  Might be fun.  Wonder what they would call it?  There's certainly enough activity going on to keep a folklorico show interesting.  It could happen, who knows?  I'm down.  Perhaps there could be an episode where I teach the cast of "Little People, Big World" a folklorico routine!  That would be a reality tv show featuring a reality tv show! Too much reality?
 
Someone else recommended I write a book.  Perhaps, I will someday about Richard's dance career and the history of his dance group, Herencia Mexicana.  My story I've already shared here in this blog.  Now if they develop it into a movie or incorporate it with a movie plot, that would be cool!  But who knows, perhaps I will go on to write a book, especially if we go on a world tour next year or I perform for the President.  It could happen!  And not just for President Obama, but President Enrique Pena Nieto as well!
 


I'm surprised that more mainstream pop artists have not embraced folklorico dancing in their music videos. I've seen several other cultural folk influenced dances represented, but not folklorico.  It's time to share the spotlight!  Don't get me wrong, there are Spanish videos and performances that have folklorico dancing, but not in American music videos.  You would think that with all those colorful costumes and the energetic footwork, that more artists would tap into the dance style and broaden their viewing audience.  

Back in the early 90's when I was in college in Chicago, the rave scene was all the rage.  Who's ready to bust out their Venetian Paradise hat and pin strip pants?  An artist named Moby was making his way on the scene, creating a techno frenzy!  I had a friend called Big Bill who was all into Moby and he use to rant and rave (haha) over him.  I bought a couple Moby CDs and I really liked his music.  Anyone remember "Next Is The E"?  One day I was going through some stuff and decided to write Moby a letter.  Sure enough he wrote me back...paper mail even!  I didn't have email at the time.   Moby went on to major success and you can hear his music all over the world.

Moby lives in Los Angeles these days and I follow him on Facebook.  Recently, he posted these photos on his wall from the video shoot for "perfect life".  Can't wait to see it when it hits the world wide web!


 
Funny people use to tell me that I kind of look like Moby.

 
I would like to shoot a YouTube video for One Big Wedo.  I think it would be cool to have a contest for DJ's to come up with a dance club hit for me.  Or if Moby was up for returning to his dance roots, I would love to work with him on a collaboration.  That would be awesome!  How about it Moby?  As far as the music video itself, it would include lots of folklorico in it and be filmed throughout the Los Angeles area.  I have lots of ideas.  Who would be interested in seeing the Wedo get his "club folklorico" on in an underground club video?  I imagine it  to have a somewhat similar vibe like Jipsta's "Too New York" video.


Here's another concept, I use to go to a lot of concerts.  There was a time I wanted to see everyone perform live.  One artist I saw multiple times was Madonna.  In fact, on her last tour when she performed at Dodgers Stadium, there I was in the front row right up against the stage.  Well, as close as you could get anyway.  There are even a few videos of the show on YouTube where you can see my bald head.  

Madonna is a studied dancer.  I have seen her utilize many styles of dance in her shows, including Flamenco and Salsa.  At the Dodger Stadium show, she even had Mariachi musicians play.  She has a huge Mexican following.  There was also some really fascinating Japanese performers with her on that tour.  So when is it folklorico's turn to go on tour with you Madonna?

Recently Madonna released a song called "Give Me All Your Luvin'" which featured M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj in the video.  Click the link below to see the video:

Mariachi Intermission (Madison Square Gardens) - The LA show was more traditional if I remember correctly, no video found.
Flamenco Dance

Nicki Minaj recently released this video "Pound The Alarm" where tribal looking feathered costumes were used.  The video depicts Carnival costuming in St. James.  Click this link to watch the video:


I had an idea for Madonna's next LA tour visit.  I would like to see the two women reunite for one night and create an tribal and folklorico free for all!  You have Nicki and her tribal women vs. Madonna and her white charro clad men.   It would be cool if they could incorporate the song "Die Another Day" for the production.  I see the two on stage with their dancers challenging each other.  Then the two stars unite on stage as the tribal women dance around them and the charro men do deslices around the the women in the opposite direction.  What's deslices? Kind of looks like de-slices.  But is sounds like dis-lee-sus.  Anyway, this is the movement where the guys kick their leg out to one side repeatedly in a chopping kind of motion.  You often see this when men dance around the hat during The Hat Dance.  The verb in Spanish means to slide, glide, or slip.  This continues as the stage with Madonna and Nicki rises.   The song finishes with fireworks!  A big finale!

Another celebrity I would love to work with is Gwen Stefani.  I adore her!  Here's what I have for Gwen!  I would love to shoot a music video with Gwen Stafani and dance Jalisco with her in the video.  Yes, Jalisco!  I see Gwen in a vision of royal blue with her blond hair and intense eye makeup and lashes.  I would wear the traditional black charro.  The video would start in a traditional Mexican village setting.  For the shoot, we could use the area in the back lot of Universal Studios that I believe is called or referred to as "Anywhere Mexico".  Gwen would come out into the village square in the heat of the day, sun glaring overhead, in her blue Jalisco dress and blond trenza.  What's a trenza, you ask?  I had to ask too!
 

A trenza is literally, a braid.  In folklorico, women's hairpieces are braids and therefore are called trenzas.  Trenzas are often made with black yarn, however I have seen some made of synthetic hair as well.  Oftentimes, trenzas have colorful ribbons and flowers incorporated in their construction. Trenza making is a unique art of its own and the women who do it take great pride in their work.  I have seen several photos of Gwen with flowers in her hair.  So a trenza for Gwen is absolutely appropriate!  


 
Now back to my story, where were we?  Gwen, sun, heat of the day, village square!  For some reason I see lots of people standing and starring at her from a distance.  I also see dust stirred up from her walking and castanets sounding.  Although castanets are more associated with flamenco dancing and Spain.  Yes, Mexico has a lot of Spanish influence, however people often confuse flamenco and folklorico as both indigenous of Mexico.  Even on television, I have seen Mexico represented with features more true to Spain than Mexico.  In a future guest post, I hope to share with readers the connection and difference between flamenco and folklorico.  Anyways, where was I again?  

That's right, castanets!  Scratch the castanets and lets replace them with trumpet and Spanish guitar. Ok there's Gwen in the courtyard village square, hair looking spectacular and make up fierce - eyelashes, red lipstick, the whole works.  Then it's my entrance, I come in and we do our Jalisco love dance for a bit.  Then Richard appears to challenge me and take Gwen for his own.  Aye, Richard!
 

Gwen, in a moment of panic, runs into an alley which leads her into the current downtown Los Angeles in a graffitied area of the city.  There she is met by a group of men in charros and a dance off ensues.  Gwen is captured and taken to a building in the city, Richard's lair!  But wait for the ending!  

Gwen sneaks out through the window and down the fire escape!  Go Gwen, Go!  And behold, there I am on a horse ready to rescue and take her away off into the city sunset!  What do you think Gwen?  I think you need to add some Mijas to your Harajuku Girls clan. 

This would make a good Big Wedo video as well, featuring the music of Gwen and Moby!  Wouldn't that be cool?  Hey, Gwen and Moby have already worked together on the video "Southside"!  Perhaps they would like to do it again?  How about it guys?  Here's a link to their last feature together:


Lastly, what do you think of a folk opera?  Hmmm.  Let's incorporate folklorico and opera together and see what we get!  I'll have to keep working on this idea and get back to you on that!

In closing, I wanted to share this video of a Mexican dancing dog!  Enjoy!  If a dog can do it, then this Wedo can do it too!  Apparently, there is even a dog dancing competition.  Check it out too!

Mexican Dancing Dog
2012 Salzburg Dog Dancing Competition

Lastly, here are two cultural connection photos for the week!  Enjoy!

 Dancers doing their makeup before a folklorico performance
 
Marcos getting his charro on!
 
Until next week everyone, Wedo out!  Send me some of your ideas for folklorico this week!


****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.




More Folklorico Terms! Test Yourself! - Bonus Post 3

Howdy!  As I was looking up the correct spelling for the Spanish word "DESLICES" for this week's post, I came across this folklorico terminology resource by PELINKS4U and wanted to share it!  So here it is!  But first, deslices: a verb which means to slide, glide or slip. 


Basic Terminology
It is important to use the correct terminology and language in the teaching of the basic dance steps, or the pasos, through the footwork referred to the as the zapateado. The challenge in Mexican folklórico dance is that not all terms for the various steps have been standardized, like in American square dance, which can result in confusion. It is important to note that the terms used depend on the teacher or the maestro. A quick reference for a selection of common terms and basic pasos may include:

Posición tusa - Standing with the knees slightly flexed to facilitate and execute the dance steps or pasos.
Golpe - Refers to the basic foot stomp on the floor.
Remate - Execution of a sequence of foot stomps.
Sequencia - Combination of steps for a given phrase of music.
Sencillos - Single foot stomp which can be alternated with each foot or repeated with the same foot. Example: stomp once with right foot, stomp once with left foot, etc… May be done in place or in different lines of direction. The speed may vary from slow to fast.
Dobles - Double foot stomp which can be alternated with each foot or repeated with the same foot. Example: stomp twice with right foot, stomp twice with left foot, etc… May be done in place or in different lines of direction. The speed may vary from slow to fast.
Metatarsal y talón - Landing or making contact with the ball of the foot followed with the heel.
Paso de tres lentos or balseados - Landing lightly flat footed then alternating landing with the toes or metatarsal with the opposite leg and repeat such as landing whole foot right, toe left alternating right toe. Similar to the basic triple step.
Paso de tres zapateado - Consists of doing three consecutive stomps alternating the foot that is doing the action. There is an accent on the first stomp only followed by a lighter stomp on the second and third beat.
Sequidos - Continuous steps that are done with scuffing with the heel followed by making contact with the whole foot such as scuff right foot on floor and stomp with right foot then alternate with the left foot.
These basic pasos and terms can easily be taught, and serve as a great start for becoming familiar with Mexican folkloric dance.

Another resource I found this week was on quizlet.com.  Here are 24 Mexican Folklorico Dance Terms & Facts everyone should know!  The site is sort of like a flashcard set up.  Test your knowledge!

Folklore - a collective cultural knowledge of a group of people.

Dance - celebrates...life, mourns death, offers prayers, expresses a point of view, holidays, social events, life transitions.

Danza - Indigenous, Pre-Hispanic dances/rituals

Traditional Mexican Dance - is a collective social practice in dance.

Traditional Folk Culture - has to be passed down for 3 generations

Grupo Costumbrista - costumes/original, they seek to bring the dances of a community in a natural state to a stage.

Grupo Folklorico - present folklore with entertainment value, artistic value and seeks to balance the creative and traditional elements.

Ballet Folklorico - draws from the traditional forms only as inspiration for a creative interpretation.

Grupo Folkloroide - no cohesive artistic vision or foundation, they just mimic what other groups do.

4 elements of Folklorico Performance - artistic focus and intent, repertoire of dances, choreography,music and costumes.

Time Periods of Mexican History - 11 time periods

Pre-Classic or Formative - complex societies in development

Classic - complex innovation / Chichimecas

Post Classic - Chichimeca empire formed.  Defragmentation of complex civilizations.

La Conquista 1521 - Spanish declare war onto Mexico

War of Independence 1810 - Spanish born revolutionaries began the war of independence 1821 independent from Spain Mestizaje  

Mestizo - half Spanish, half indigenous

Criollo - someone or Spanish decent born in the Americas

Mulato - half black, half indigenous

Chichimecas - empire in north semi-nomadic

Chichimecas 4 ethnic groups - Pames, Guamares, Zacatecas, Guachichiles

Chichimecas - hunters/gathers, little clothing, paint their bodies

2 Wars - 1540-1542 Mixon Wars, 1550-1590 Chichinecas Wars

Dia de los Muertos - not a Christian holiday, celebrated before Spanish arrived.  Oaxaca - major celebration, Michoacán, Xantolo

Wow!  These terms really break it down!  I love it!  Be sure to check back for this week's post!

****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Don't Forget Your Logo Entries!

This is a friendly reminder to all Big Wedo Logo Contestants to Submit Their Logo Entry by August 31, 2013.  See week 28 for all the details!

****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

39 - Say It Isn't So! - Week 34

Welcome back!  I'm back on track!  There's a little rhyme for you this week!  
It's nice to see Croatia, Poland, Taiwan and Spain all made it back to the blog!
And welcome Congo, Africa!  Let's get started!
 
 
This week I had my 39th birthday!  "Oh say it isn't so!"  "Stop the insanity!" Alright all together now, "Happy Birthday Weddo, Happy Birthday Guero, Happy Birthday Big Wedo, Happy Birthday Guerro!"  Thank you so much!  What's that? What did you say?  Did I hear you correctly?  "I don't look a day over 29!"  Why, that's one of the kindest things anyone has said!  Unlike the one who responded with, "Yeah, I was stuck at 39 for several years as well!"  No really, I'm only 39!  And how do I plan living out the rest of my 30's?  Dancing folklorico of course!


The past week has been spent celebrating the life of who's now become "One Big Wedo".   It's a bit unusual that when I look in the mirror, the reflection I see in return is my father.  Yes, I look just like my dad.  He was 36 when I was born.  

So how did I spend my birthday?  With Richard doing all the stuff we enjoy doing together.  Los Angeles here we come!  Now most guys would probably spend their birthdays either barbecuing, drinking beer and watching football or off roading.  I found myself shoulder deep in fabric, trim and sequins!  It was all about the costumes!  We spent the day finding all kinds of woven treasures to create spectacular stage costumes for our upcoming performances in September.  I had a real good time, even though I seemed a bit down during the week.  Must be hormones, because funny things happen to old people like me.  My sincerest apologies if I came across overbearing to anyone out there!  There was a full moon too!  AAH-WOOOOOO!

We also made a trip over to the charro store.  We are having vests made for our suits!  So another fitting took place!  We're gonna look sharp when they are done and when we get all put together. Which means were gonna be tackling the Jalisco region again.  Time to step up my man game!  I also priced what a custom black sombrero would run me since mine  is distracting.  Doesn't fit right.  The price?  $450.00!  Ouch!  


The day wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Olvera Street.  We returned to the same old restaurant as last year for the birthday margarita and flan tradition !  Last year my niece joined us! This year it was just the two of us.  I wanted to take a picture of us as old men.  So we got two Michoacan masks for the shoot!  We even wore the same shirts as last year!  Another tradition!  I always joke with people that I'm from Michoacan (Michigan).  So it was fitting for the picture.  I can't wait to dance this region!  Hopefully Richard will teach it soon, while I still need to wear a mask to look old.  The gray is catching up with me.  Ugh!  There's no time to waste or wait!  Viva Viejitos!


 
While there at Olvera Street, I purchased a sugar skull for a friend and coworker that was curious about trying one after he read my blog on week 30 called "The Day Of The Dead".  On Friday, we broke skull together and had ourselves a taste of culture and tradition.  The sudden burst of sugar energy aided in my record production numbers the rest of the afternoon on overtime.  Ironic how something so "dead" made me come alive!
 
    
Back on week 18 I wrote a post called "Taking Inventory".  I set all kinds of plans and goals for myself and told everyone I would give an update on week 27.  That didn't happen!  I got busy writing about other stuff.  Well, here is a little update.  

The tone of that week 18 post was super serious.  I was determined to conquer folklorico and refine my skills.  Which is still the ultimate goal, but I'm enjoying the process and trying not to be so up tight.  Stop stressing Michael and roll with it.  Ok I will!  That being said, lets have some fun analyzing the Wedo together!

One thing I can say about folklorico is that it is definitely harder than it appears!  I've learned that first hand.  There are layers, upon layers of details.  It can make you go crazy at times.  

Someone sent some photos to me from a few recent performances!  I love it.  I always like looking at the photos to see what needs improvement.  Here are a few that really stood out to me!  Below is a picture that at first glance, just looks like an action shot.  But then I noticed my posture.  Horrible! I'm the "Hunchback of Herencia"!  I knew it was bad, but this is just embarrassing!  So allow me to be the poster child for dancing posture don'ts!  The photo speaks for itself!  Dancers:  Don't let this happen to you!  Stand up straight!  And what's up with my pinky finger?  Or Pinkie in Scottish English.  Looks like I'm stirring a cup of tea!  Biscotti anyone?  One lump or two?  Trust me, I've got enough sugar for everyone!  More on this in a bit.


As a result of this sobering picture, which I appreciate, I have taken action!  My birthday gift to myself was the apparatus you see below!  The dancers posture clavicle brace.  I bought it on Amazon for $25.  Happy Birthday Mr. Smith, now stand up straight!  I've been wearing it at each practice since its arrival.  Hopefully, it helps correct the problem.

And since I'm being transparent with ya'll, not only am I a hunchback, but a lopsided one at that!  One shoulder blade sticks out about a half inch further than the other.  See what years of bad posture will do to you!  Call me Shrek!  Perhaps my family were ogres and lived in castle towers in ancient times or something.  Aye, this back of mine has become a dancers nightmare!
 
Therefore, As I have gotten older, I have levitated to the realm of self pampering.  More and more every year that passes.  Pedicures, foot massage/reflexology and body massages are all in order these days. There's a benefit to growing older now, isn't it?  Lately, as they work the back, I feel the shoulder blade slide back into place.  Sort of bizarre feeling.  

 
I know that good posture is possible.  Even for someone of my height!  Recently, I watched a DVD of "Hello Dolly!"  Yes, Allow me to take a moment and "check in" my man card here.  One particular dancer caught my eye.  He was a tall and thin man who stood chest, head and shoulders above the rest.  He didn't let that stand in his way.  He had great posture an executed the dances like he fit right in.  This freak got his freak on!  So it can be done without looking out of place!  Hello Dolly is also a good movie to watch to see how dancers need to control the costume, not the other way around. Those people in the movie really took charge of their costumes.  And many of the costumes appeared that they would present a challenge to dance like that in. Hats off to the crew!

 
Below is another picture from the same show as above.  Hold up!  There's that pinky again.  What is going on there precious?  I can hear the words of Richard echoing in my head, "Tame those pinkys men!"  I have coined these photos as the  "Fosse Folklorico Collection"!  "Fosse, Fosse, Fosse!"  If your not familiar with the work of Bob Fosse, look him up!  He was an amazing talent.  He always did these unique detailed movements with dancers hands that exuded lots of energy.  My pinky is exploding with energy here!  Watch out!
If you're interest in some Fosse entertainment, check out the movies Sweet Charity or Chicago.  In fact, guess which pop star just paid tribute to Fosse in her music video?  Take a guess.  More on her in a bit.


Below is a picture where I forgot to remove my hat.  Either I forgot, or the man in the background was early.  I will take the hit because my mind is slipping a little bit.  Photos are great learning tools. It important to remember however, that it is only a snap shot of one quick moment.  There may have only been a second or two difference between us taking off our hats.  The camera caught it this time.


The photo below shows the importance to details.  I love that my back is straight in this picture. However, it appears I'm kissing her forehead!  It would have been a better shot had her fan been covering our faces like it was suppose to.  I like Richard's positioning in the middle there.  Look how he is holding his hat, I can learn from this!  And there at the end, well I guess I'm not the only one who forgets to take off their hat.  Ladies have the challenges of skirts and fans, men have the challenges hats and pinkys!


Here is another photo of Richard that I like.  Look at his positioning (in the yellow) and compare it to mine (in the red).  He is working that shoulder angle isn't he?  Get it man!  It looks polished, crisp and sharp.  Another picture I can learn from my teacher.

Shoulder work/angles and "spotting" on turns are two areas I need to work on!  "Spotting" is when you focus on the same point each time you revolve around the turn.  Try it out.  Focus on something in front of you and keep looking at it.  Now start to turn your body around but keep look at your focus point.  As you keep turning your body, you will get to a point where you need to turn you head.  So turn your head quickly and focus right back on the same place you were using as your point of focus. That's the basic idea if it.  Now try it for multiple turns in a row.  Go!  Ice skaters use the same technique when they do turns too.  It's tricky if you're not use to it.  I'm all over the place when I turn. Try to get this stubborn, tall and ADD man to stand up straight and focus on the same thing is enough to drive any teacher to drink!


Below is a recent picture from an intense practice session.  I've been sweating like crazy lately.  Or perhaps they're just hot flashes.  At my age you never know!  I have been practicing three days a week for two to three hours each practice!  There are a lot of shows coming up in September and we are getting ready.  I will be performing with Ballet Folklorico Sol de Mexico, Images Of Mexico and Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana in September.  Be sure to visit my Facebook page for dates, places and times. 

All the practicing has help with weight management too!  I've been losing it everywhere but my belly, which is surprising because I have been "eating fresh".  I weighed myself this morning and I am down to 198 lbs!  I was so excited that I decided to celebrate and take a trip to the vending machine at work and splurge on some peanuts, a Twix candy bar, a bag of Doritos, a bag of pretzels and some cookies!  Seriously! It was a great time and now I'm back to 215.  All that work to get lighter on my feet and it still seems like it takes more and more effort to take the lead out.  Who pushed my button to turn on my internal delay?  I think Mr. 39 did.

I have lost some weight, which is good because we have a potential television appearance in the works for September 15th.  More on that in a couple weeks!  Stay tuned to my Facebook page for details as the event gets closer.  I'm hesitant to reveal all the details now, but it will be at "The Happiest Place On Earth"!
 
Besides the nice gray patch on my chin, I noticed that my nose is looking nice and hairless!  Good deal.  But wait, look at my nostrils.  Hairless, YES!  But one is bigger than the other!  What?  Oh no! Ever since I've noticed this, I've been checking out people's noses.  The Big Wedo obviously needs to seek some help!  I've discovered that it's a common occurrence after all!  Phew, I thought nasal reconstruction was  going to be needed there for a second.  

Lastly, why is my head angled like that?  I have my nose in the air.  Such a snob!  

 
Let's talk a little more about this nose issue, shall we?  I have been focusing so intently lately on my posture that I noticed that I've started to shrug my shoulders a  little too.  Now I look like a penguin! I guess it gives me that extra tall feeling.  And my nose has elevated itself a bit as I walk with pomp. A coworker hit me up about it this week.  He told me that I raise my nose up a little bit when I walk. Oh dear!  Now I'm fruity and snooty!  That's a horrible combination!  Seems like whenever I focus on one problem to fix, it sets off a chain reaction for others to surface.  Sigh!  Will the Wedo ever conquer himself?  Only time will reveal!  Below is picture that show me dancing tall and straight, like a board!  Sure enough, shoulders slightly up and nose raised!


A common reaction I get from people is that I seem to be angry or upset by the way I look.  Kind of like Sam the Eagle from the Muppets.  Nice Frida brow by the way there Sam!  I am so misread!  My looks and my personality don't really match up.  I am a deep thinker, somewhat serious and very focused.  But I am a very average and ordinary guy, I sometimes just need to be snapped out of it!  Earth to Wedo, Come In Wedo! 
 

I've shared some of my folklorico "bloopers" in the past.  Someone hit me up and asked if I wasn't committing "folklorico suicide" by doing so?  As I stated earlier, photos only capture a moment in time and don't reflect the whole overall performance.  There is a lot of movement happening on stage and when you see it live, it blends all together.  Mistakes do happen however, and sometimes they get captured in a photo.  So by sharing them, I help myself, help other dancers and performers, and share a laugh or two with readers as they analyze them with me.

We love movies and television.  So much of it gets edited and several takes are shot for that perfect scene.  But in live entertainment, you get that one chance and no one is perfect!  I've been watching a Carol Burnett Show marathon this week.  The show was taped live.  There was lots of dancing on that show and sometimes even the pros made mistakes and mishaps happened.  I saw one today were the mans hat fell off and they kept on going - all with a smile. 

To drive my point home, we all saw those Beyonce Superbowl photos from her big performance.  They were labeled as ugly and unflattering by people.  Were they coincidence?  Perhaps, but there were several of them published in the media.  From the looks of them you would have thought it was a bad show, but in actuality it rocked.  And Beyonce's career is doing just fine despite of the pictures.


I will post more folklorico blooper pics in the future.  This week, I was corrected in class by one of the ladies for having my head in the wrong position for the kisses.  That would have been some embarrassing photos.  Thanks for the save!  


In closing I wanted to recommend a couple of Facebook pages to everyone.  The first is called Cultura and offer viewers a visual experience of Mexico through photos.  I am a big fan of pictures and love that you can experience the world through them.  I also want to encourage folklorico fans to visit Folklorico Page on Facebook as well.  Lots of pictures there for viewing as well.  A special thanks to Folklorico Page for sharing last week's blog. 

  
Don't forget your contest entries by August 31, 2013.  Be sure to check back next week for week 35's post called "Ideas For Folklorico!"  I am excited about this one.  Lastly, thank you Richard for a great birthday.  See you next week everybody!  Wedo Out!
 
LIVE, LAUGH, LEARN & GROW

****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Cultural Connection - Week 33

This week I want to write about the "Cultural Connection".  Something happened this past week that made me realize that I have missed it a little bit.  I have been so focused on folklorico as being entertainment, that I've neglected to paint the whole picture and give the cultural aspect enough limelight.  Hopefully this week I can add some paint from my pallet and balance out the canvas!  Let's get started!


Last weekend I went to see Richard and his dance partner for the evening, perform at Guadalajara Grill for the Saturday night mariachi show!  What a fun night.  Even though I didn't perform, I tagged along.  I like to keep myself busy and if I can be of assistance, I'm there to help.  Usually this results in carrying the costumes, fetching water, taking pictures and running to Walmart for any last minute items needed.  This particular night I made a run for red lipstick, safety pins, an eyebrow pencil, Aqua Net, body glitter and breath mints.  You can imagine the look on the cashier's face as he rang me up, analyzing my purchase!  Of course I just smiled and sighed, then stated, "Yes it's a lot of work, but I'm going out tonight!"  The checker couldn't process my payment and bag it up quick enough!  Works every time!  Try it sometime.  Totally joking about the Aqua Net and body glitter.


That night they danced Jalisco, Chihuahua, Veracruz and Puebla (Jalisco with the China dress - the same colorful China I wrote about on week 12 in "The Tale of Two Chinas").  Although Richard's partner was a little nervous, she did an awesome job.  She was very excited to dance in the china dress.  She had never danced the Jarabe Tapatio in a China and/or as a solo couple on stage like that before.  I could tell that this was very important and a special moment for her.  Her reaction caused me to think and realize that there was a cultural connection happening that I don't fully understand or can relate to entirely.  Although I have mentioned culture in my blogs before, I think it had been down played as I am a visitor here in this journey.
 

On the way home, I mentioned to Richard the experience and reaction she had dancing in the china. He shared how his mother teared up the first time she saw his brother and him in charro suits.  It's a culture thing.  I know what it's like to feel patriotism and pride, but the cultural aspect is foreign to me.  On several occasions women have asked Richard if they could rent one of the group's costumes to take pictures of themselves wearing it.  Likewise, several men have inquired dancing Jalisco for just one show so they can wear the charro and make their mother's proud.  Of course, Richard always tell them that they will have to come to practices, learn the dances just like everyone else and be able to perform them up to par.  No special exceptions!  There seems to be a special connection to the cultural attire that people cherish as part of their heritage.

I have enjoyed learning different Regional dances and acquiring the various costumes for each.  There is a level of deeper excitement and pride that comes from within those who come from the culture itself.  There is some degree of disconnect for me as it is not my own.  Although I may be "The Guero", I am not Mexican.  I think many would agree that there is a strong bond between people of Mexican decent and the homeland Mexico and the traditions associated with it.  It is part of their identity.  This carries over into their values, specifically family, where community is upheld, creating an environment of belonging.  With such deep cultural heritage and pride, it is understandable why many Americans of Mexican decent want to be referred to as Mexican Americans - celebrating their cultural identity and roots.  Other Mexican values include Religion, Tradition and Pride.  There are others as well that I'm sure you will think of as you read this today.
 

My personal experience of cultural roots and heritage in my family has been somewhat different. Our heritage and culture wasn't celebrated too much.  It was addressed in our family as ancestry and with the passing down of family heirlooms.  I recall a photo album with family portraits of our distant relatives that immigrated here.  Most of them black and white photos of stern looking, frowning, cold, hard people in formal clothing and settings.  We never learn to speak German or French in our household and we never took trips back to the European homelands.  However, I did learn to say "hello" in German and I remember that I felt "oh so cultured!"  In high school I took a semester of Spanish because it was the only language offered.  I passed the class because I did my homework, not because I could speak the language!  Obviously!  In college, I had to take classes on the International Phonetic Alphabet because we had to know how to speak the various languages properly that music is written. We also did some translation.  We didn't have to know the language necessarily, they just wanted us to speak it properly.
 

In high school I took a trip to the UK with the band.  It was fun to visit a place where some of my distant relatives had come from.  It was interesting to see and experience the land from which they originated.  That's as close as going "home" as it has gotten for me.  In recent years, my niece has worked extensively on our family tree, tracing the family roots.  It has been interesting to learn some of the information and family history she has dug up on us Smiths!

Although my family lived very much the American life, abandoning our own cultural past to some extent, not all white folks have done the same.  My parents took us to many festivals and the sort, that celebrate different "white" cultures.  We were exposed to, enjoyed and developed an appreciation for them.  We would go every year to the Holland Tulip Festival and parade.  We also attended a parade that had several Scottish bag pipers march.  I think it was the Red Flannel Days or another parade in the Alma, Michigan area.  I know that there is a lot of celebrations for Oktoberfest around the country, celebrating German culture and heritage.  I have seen a lot of Irish pride too.  Detroit area celebrated many different ones as well.  There are too many to mention them all.  My whole point being, it was much more an appreciation of cultures than an embracing of our own.
 

I grew up amongst the corn fields and pastures of Michigan.  We commuted to school a long distance, unlike city folk.  Yes, uphill, in the snow and barefoot - both ways!  The schools I attended were predominately "white".  There were a few Mexican families in the community too.  The school itself offered music programs and classes, but no dance classes of any kind.  We had some school dances and I went to one in Junior High.  I also went to one homecoming dance and prom in High School.

My father was a pastor of a church in the community.  The church was also predominately "white", however, there was one Mexican couple that attended church there that became close friends with my mom and dad.  The husband came from a huge Mexican family and had 17 brothers and sisters.  This couple was always doing family things.  Now my family did get together from time to time and we enjoyed each others company whenever we got together.  But the "family" value did not rank as high on the list, as in this Mexican family.  I perceived a difference and inquired one day of my mother why that was.  Her response was that, "Mexican people are very social people and community is important to them."  That's all that was said.  I was left with an understanding that family did not rank as highly as other values in our family.


So what were our family values?  Number one was church and service to the church.  Although I went to a few of the dances in my school years, dancing was considered worldly by the church. Rather than go to the school dance, other alternatives were provided.  If the dance was during school hours, a movie was offered in the student library.  If the dance was after the Friday night football game, the church offered activities for the youth.  

Ironically, part of requirement for my Theological Studies degree was ministry participation.  I was able to use my folklorico dancing towards part of that requirement as we dance for many churches and church charities.  I think in some denominations, the attitude towards dancing has changed some.  

The second value would have to be work.  As soon as I was able to push the lawn mower, I was put to work.  We had our weekly household chores as well.  I mowed several of the neighbor's lawns for $5 each on a weekly basis.  In the sixth grade I started staying after school to help out the janitor emptying trash cans and what not for $1 a day.  Then I started my paper route.  I've been working ever since.

I would spend my money on five and ten cent candies or 20 cent candy bars and soda at the corner convenient store.  Sometimes I would get a 35 cent ice cream cone from the ice cream shop!  Now doesn't those prices make me old!  


Thirdly, education.  You can never have enough of it.  You need to be informed and educated about life and everything involved with it.  We were taught you had to have an educated understanding about things.  Not just a general impression or follow the common flow of people's opinions and experience.

The fourth value was music.  Growing up we listened to old 45's of "Lollipop" and "The Big Bopper"!  We even had an 8 track player!  Yes, believe it!  No VCR or BETA players for us!  And no cable television either, although our antenna picked up three or four stations!  We entertained ourselves learning piano and other instruments.  I was in every music ensemble I could be part of. After all that, then came family.  Again, I have to say it isn't nearly as strong and close as the bond as I see in Mexican families.  We can go years without even communicating with each other. This lack of a family bond has led to a feeling of abandonment at times and the absence of belonging. I always had a feeling that we were not to be any sort of burden to each other, resulting in an individualist survival mindset.

Although Mexicans and white folks share the same values, their emphasis varies.  I'm writing this so people can see just how much we have in common, yet be very different.  As I've said before, I'm not having a cultural identity crisis or anything like that - being multicultural is the American way, I suppose.  I will say that is has been a lot of fun dancing Mexican dance.  And perhaps I am having a cultural connection of my own with those polka influenced dances.  I love them and perhaps that's the German stewing in me! 


In closing, I wanted to share this picture that I have entitled "Dede On Parade!"  Although Dede is not a folklorico dancer, she wanted to have a culture connection and wear the costume.  Here she is in her Veracruz best representing Herencia in a parade!  You Go Dede!  Get your pride on!

My apologies to everyone for publishing late this week.  I have fallen behind for several reasons.  Plus it's hard to write these posts on my phone, which is the norm now.  And it was my birthday and I took some time off to celebrate!  That's next week's post!  I have also been working a lot of overtime and practicing a lot for the upcoming shows!  I appreciate everyone's understanding and flexibility.

Don't forget to submit those logos for the $100 contest by August 31, 2013!  Until next week, Wedo out!


****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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, August 18, 2013

Time To Catch Up

Welcome Belgium, Greece & South Africa.  There is no new post this week.  This will allow readers to get all caught up!  My apologies.  I will try to get all caught up on posts this week.  It has been difficult since I am unable to access Blogger any longer from work.  Leaving the Blogger app on my phone the only option for writing during the week on my breaks and lunches until I get home.  This week's post did not get finished.  I will post as soon as it is completed to my satisfaction.  Thanks and please check back soon.  Don't forget to submit your logos by August 31, 2013. 

****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.


Monday, August 12, 2013

For The Kids! - Bonus Post 2

Hi Everyone!  Here are some coloring pages for the kids to color.  You can find more by Google Searching:  Mexican Coloring Pages, Day Of The Dead Coloring Pages, Mexican Folk Dance Coloring Pages and the like!   Send me your children's folklorico/Mexico themed color art by September 30, 2013 and I will post it in my blog for the whole world to enjoy.  Simply print them off, color and scan and email back to me.  Some may need to be enlarged.  It may be easier to print them and enlarge them right from Google image results.


















  ****ATTENTION ALL BIG WEDO FANS & FOLLOWERS:  MARK YOUR CALENDARS - SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 - HERENCIA MEXICANA WILL BE PERFORMING AT THE LA COUNTY FAIR.  THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA TO COME OUT AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT!  MEET THE WEDO!  LET'S PACK THE PLAZA AND SET RECORD ATTENDANCE FOR THE SHOW!  HOPE TO SEE EVERYONE THERE!  PLAZA DE LAS AMERICAS FROM 1:30 TO 2:00 PM****


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail: onebigwedo@gmail.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Blogger: www.onebigwedo.blogspot.com

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
E-Mail: Bf_herencia_mexicana@yahoo.com

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.