The Hispanic World
Ballet Folkorico de Mexico is a dance style associated with the Mexican people. It is a dance that captured the hearts of the Mexican natives and clearly illustrated the indigenous culture and traditions that formed the backbone of the country. It incorporated the ballerina and Mexican folklore to create a perfect blend of Mexican music. This type of dance was founded by Amalia Hernandez, a Mexican dance choreographer. She had embarked on an artistic journey at a tender age. Having been raised in a wealthy family, she was exposed to the best dance instructors who polished her dance and choreography skills allowing her to grow artistically. She received immense support from her parents with the extent of having an inbuilt studio in their home where she could get lessons and practice. When she clocked 17 years old, she enrolled in The National School of Dance where her career into dance and choreography was conceived. Her inspiration stemmed from her interest in the songs she listened to as she grew up, the landscape of her country as she traveled. She realized that the treasure in creating song and dance lay in the hidden villages that were hid from view by the mountains and valleys.
The ballet Folkorico created by Amalia reflected on the culture and traditions of the Mesoamerican Mexicans. The variations of this dance include the Mestizo, Bailes Regionales and Danza. The dances included ensembles that portrayed the aura of village festivals, local dances, a recreation of Mayan and Aztec rituals and scenarios depicting the history of Mexico. Her work clearly captured the transition of the Mexican culture form the pre-Columbian times to the Spanish influence of the Vice Royal era to the innovatory period. She restructured the era where there existed human gods and spiritual realms which were linked to different cultures, this created vivid pictures and scenarios painted by the colorful costumes, coordinated movements and intriguing personification by the dancers. She is seen as a Mexican cultural emissary.
The Mexican folklore originated from the pre Hispanic era comprising of two aspects that are religion and war (Aguirre et al, 31). The folklore dances were characterized with colorful wardrobe with graceful orchestrated motions and choreography that synchronized perfectly with the rhythm demanding an appraisal for unique execution. Utilizing her expertise in different dance techniques and choreography skills, Amalia Hernandez developed 56 choreographed folk dances and 30 ballets that put her name on the map as one of the most genius minds in Mexican Music Industry.
The Mesoamerican culture was greatly illustrated in her work “Deer Dance of the Yaqui Indians”. This dance was associated with the Yaqui Indians who were a Mexican tribe. The plot of the dance showed a man wearing a headdress that had antlers taking the role of a deer under hot pursuit by hunters (Ballet Folkorico De Mexico, 46). This spiritual ritual was used by the tribe to communicate with the flower world and was performed prior to a hunt to guarantee its success. The dressing was of a floral print that was symbolic of the Yaqui’s belief that the deers originated form a spiritual realm that was filled with flowers and astonishing natural beauty. This belief was justified by the crucifixion of Jesus where his blood trickled to the ground and miraculously formed flowers. The dance took place during the Easter season.
Sones of Michoacán are another beautiful piece of work by Amalia. The dance depicted how the Michoacáns were a tribe with boisterous happy expressions. The dance was exaggeratingly colorful creating a frenzied fiesta. It was a couple’s dance where a man called a woman illustrating that she was close to him as his rib, which was a direct reference of the bible of Eve’s creation from Adams rib. An analysis of this dance illustrates that the artistic musical archives of a society encompasses performance of folk songs and dances as clearly seen in the artistry of the tribe of the Apatzinagan. Folklore in this instance allows the audience to relive the times of dance and movement in ancient ceremonies thus creating a nostalgic effect during the performance.
The culture of the Zacatecas was also depicted in the folklore dances. A revolutionary dance focused on the main character, a woman called Soldadera. The persona created a scenario where she demonstrated the dilemma that faced her during the revolution era through rapid movements and gesticulations. The audience experiences two conflicting stories: a historical one and one that depicts the fight of life. The moral behind the dance is the struggle between good and evil that are human traits.
Creativity and richness in culture is demonstrated by the dance called “The Civilization of the Tiger”. The culture depicted in this dance is that of the Olmecs people. It was divided into three categories, which encompass the celebrations on the tiger hunt, communion with the tiger and a ritualistic dance to adore the tiger. The personas in this dance were portrayed as figurines that were in constant motion (Ballet Folkorico De Mexico, 54). The dance showed the mystery of the Olmec folk who believed in a magical cosmos, which was the greatest inspiration behind the choreography done by Amalia. Its aim was to lure the viewer to indulge in the privacy of celebrating the civilization of the Tiger.
Amalia also engaged the spectators in the choreographed wedding dance from Tehuantepec that was renowned for wedding performances. The emotions strongly depicted were those of intimate love, the synchronization of nature and love rites (Aguirre et al, 63). The dance was focused on the expressions of affection between the man and the woman clearly seen throughout the slow dance. The costumes mimicked those of a literal wedding held at the Isthmus of Tehuantepes.
folklore dances choreographed by Amalia clearly illustrated the love she had
for the Mexican culture as she clearly placed a lot of emphasis on the
Mesoamerican cultures throughout the dances. They depicted the diversity of the
Mexican culture and acted as a means of exploration through the cultures that
existed before the revolutionary era. Her true identification as a Mexican was
portrayed through her artistic dances that were rich in ethnic cultural practices.
The impact of her work was solidification of the Mexican portrait as and a rich
indigenous society proud of their national heritage and culture to the world.
Aguirre, Cristiani G, Felipe Segura, and Chacel J. Contreras. Amalia Hernández’ Folkloric Ballet of Mexico. México, D.F: Fomento Cultural Banamex, 1994. Print.
Ballet Folklorico De Mexico. Mexico City: National Institute of Fine Arts, 1970. Print.