México (Expropriated): Reappropriation and Rechoreography of Ballet Folklórico

by Jessica L. Peña Torres 
The Journal of American Drama and Theatre
Volume 35, Number 2 (Spring 2023)
ISNN 2376-4236
©2023 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center

Zapateado, burlesque dancing, and a mix of mariachi, son jarocho, and electronic music combine to create the world for MÉXICO (EXPROPRIATED), a bilingual dance-theater piece that surveys three regions of México (Jalisco, Sonora, Veracruz) through a dramatization of the origins of ballet folklórico. With songs such as “Son de la Negra,” “La Bruja,” and “La Bamba,” the dancers of Coctel Explosivo present Mexico’s folkloric diaspora while inviting the audience to reflect upon a heritage that has been as appropriated as Carolina Herrera’s latest collection. MÉXICO (EXPROPRIATED) unearths the politics and history of ballet folklórico, which has been presented as authentic Mexican culture for decades and puts it under the microscope for the audience to decide: should we keep these dances in the repertoire, or should we re-choreograph them to reflect their complicated histories?

My Desilusión with Ballet Folklórico

I saw the Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández live onstage for the first time at the Strathmore Theatre in North Bethesda, MD in 2015. Even though it was a reach, I dreamed about dancing for Hernández’s company. That night in Bethesda, I became enamorada of the colors, the technique, and the professionalism of the most famous dance company in Mexico. The female dancers, all tall, very thin, and, significantly, light-skinned, looked like Barbie dolls to me. For days, I daydreamed of their high battements in “Guerrero,” the lightness of their faldeo in “Jalisco,” and their pas de vals in “Revolución.”

A few months later, I moved to Mexico City to audition for the company, but a quick visit to their website shattered my hopes in seconds. The section “Auditions” listed under “requirements”: “Estatura minima: mujeres 1.68 m” (Minimum height: women 5’5’’)[i]. I was four inches too short. I thought about the dancers I had seen perform and could not help but compare my short height to their statuesque bodies.

A month or so later, I was dancing with the Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano, a sixty-year-old-company founded by a former dancer of Hernández’s, Maestra Silvia Lozano. In rehearsals, it did not take long for me to start hearing chisme (gossip) about what it was like to work for other major folklórico companies in the city. I heard rumors that teachers and administrators in Hernández’s company bullied dancers if they had darker skin or were “overweight.” More interesting, however, was criticism about how Hernández’s works were not “authentic” or “traditional,” but, rather, highly stylized.

All of this chisme reminded me of the dances I had witnessed in Bethesda. The cuadros (dance suites) were very beautifully executed, yes, but the technique, including the port de bras, the battements, the forward-carrying of the upper body, the lightness of the feet, the emphasis on turnout, and the precision of the turns, resembled that of classical ballet companies. The press deemed Hernández “La Emperatriz del Tesoro Mexicano del Folklor” (the Empress of the Mexican Treasure of Folklore) who brought to the world stage the “incomparable culture of Mexico”[ii]. How does Hernández’s use of Western, classical dance factor into these achievements? Moreover, how does Hernandez’s company sell the image of Mexico to the rest of the world? How does this legacy shape Mexican understandings of what it means to be Mexican? If her dances are not particularly “authentic,” then what claims to indigeneity, if any, does she have? And how did she acquire the indigenous dance material she has adapted to the stage?

These and more questions started to pull apart a tapestry in my head, one I had constructed in my time as a ballet folklórico dancer with the images I believed to be a true representation of mexicanidad. Because I had performed with ballet folklórico companies in both Mexico and the United States, I thought of Hernández’s choreographic work as the footprint for folklórico dancers everywhere; her legacy extended across borders and with it, the way audiences perceived Mexican identity. This tapestry, however, was unraveling and to replace it, I was weaving together many ethical issues that this dance form brought up. As an artist-scholar, I began to question myself: how could I even begin to address these problem as a ballet folklórico dancer?

AUTHOETHNOGRAPHY

México (expropriated)[iii] ––in Spanish, México (expropiado)––is the result of an auto-ethnographic project that I began in 2019.[iv] An original evening-long piece of dance theatre, this work—which premiered as a web project in 2020, during the pandemic, and on stage in Mexico City in April 2022—is my attempt to rechoreograph the ballet folklórico form as established by Hernández through Practice as Research methodology (PaR) as delineated by Robin Nelson (2013) and Vida Midgelow (2018)[v]. Utilizing cabaret, contemporary dance, folklórico, zapateado (footwork), flamenco, burlesque, and text, México (expropriated) seeks to re-appropriate ballet folklórico’s problematic images and characters of three different cuadros:“Jalisco,” “La Danza del Venado,” and “Veracruz.” In this article, I will discuss the (re)creation of one of the characters featured in “Jalisco:” la china poblana.

Following José Muñoz’s concept of disidentification as described in his book Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics[vi], I aim to complicate the politics of my mestizo body through my artistic work. Reflecting upon Muñoz’s theory on how identity has been “formed in response to the cultural logics of heteronormativity, white supremacy, and misogyny ––cultural logics that . . . work to undergrid state power,”[vii] I argue that these same notions have been thrust upon Mexican identity. Inspired by Muñoz’s theory, I explore the social imaginary of what it means to be Mexican and actively use choreographic and theatrical tools to disidentify from these hegemonic notions, specifically as they influenced the creation of the ballet folklórico form. Since disidentification is a “strategy that works on and against dominant ideology,”[viii] I use it to challenge the traditional elements of mexicanidad[ix]. By disidentifying from the ballet folklórico form, I am “working on and against”[x] the cultural structures that I learned from a discipline that trained my body and shaped my artistic practices during my time as a professional ballet folklórico dancer in Mexico and the United States.

Throughout the process of creating México (expropriated), my cast and I considered “what is it to dance Mexican?”[xi] By exploring tropes and characters of Mexican folklore such as la china poblana, el charro, el Venado, el Negrito, and la Mulata, we investigated what it means to perform authenticity and who, in reality, were the characters that contributed to the nationalist project of the postrevolutionary period, specifically as Amalia Hernández featured them in her world-famous repertory. Lastly, I sought to reclaim agency as a former ballet folklórico professional dancer by offering an alternative interpretation of these characters, one that would provide audiences with a playful yet cutting critique of the way we perform ballet folklórico within and outside of Mexico.

Because ballet folklórico was created to consolidate a national identity, it serves to reinforce hegemonic notions of mexicanidad. México (expropriated) subverts stereotypes associated with Mexican identity, performatively unveils the unethical and inauthentic practices of ballet folklórico, and actively rejects heterosexist, racist, and homophobic gender roles embedded in both traditions.

This article describes and analyzes the recreation of the character of la china poblana, while also reflecting on the changes the piece underwent in several versions of the project. Originally, I planned to present the work on stage in Austin, Texas in spring 2020, with a cast of Latinx performers. (See figure 1). However the pandemic forced me to reconfigure the work as an interactive website. In 2022, I was able to stage the work (with a Mexican cast) at Teatro Benito Juárez in Mexico City as part of the City’s Department of Culture annual programming. (See figure 2). Over the course of its production history, the piece transformed by way of medium, cast, audience, geographical location, language (English/Spanish to Spanish-only), and time[xii].

Poster for Mexico (expropriated) by Jessica Peña Torres and the Ensemble. Photos by Juan Leyva. Design by Khristian Méndez Aguirre. March 2020.
Poster for Mexico (expropriado) by Jessica Peña Torres and Coctel Explosivo. Photo by Mona E. Avalos. April 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

It’s 1955 in Mexico City and Petra, a talented and well-connected dancer and choreographer, is starting a company to show the dances of Mexico as never seen before. In order to create her repertoire, she will need to teach the dancers of her company how to embody the characters that represent each of the different regions in Mexico.

Jalisco

Jalisco, a state in the Pacific coast, is the home of tequila, mariachis, and colonial histories. Besides being the “whitest” region of central Mexico, Jalisco’s folkloric dances have become the epitome of Mexican dance traditions. “El Jarabe Tapatío,” for instance, is one of the most frequently performed pieces in the repertoire of any ballet folklórico, from professional companies to amateur groups. Although these dances are certainly emblematic of Mexican identity, they perpetuate heteronormative gender roles through the characters of la china poblana and el charro. In this scene, we take these traditions and re-examine them through song and dance.

Mexico City 2022 live performance script excerpt:

PETRA

David ¿Cuántas veces te tengo que repetir esto? ¿Qué es esto? Petra imita a David con movimientos burdos.

PETRA

Qué vergüenza contigo. Me hiciste pasar un momento muy difícil. El charro es macho. Con el pecho arriba. Firme. Seguro de su hombría. No con movimientos afeminados. Y Mary… ¿Sabes que estoy pensando? No. Claro que no lo sabes. Tantos años en un cabaret me hacen pensar que nunca podré sacar lo corriente de ti. La China Poblana es elegante, femenina… No me estés haciendo repetir las cosas. Ustedes saben muy bien lo que quiero. Quiero un baile bien ejecutado. No vulgaridades ¿No les da pena que los venga a ver un productor y ustedes bailen como amateurs de carpa?

PETRA

David, how many times do I have to repeat this to you? What is this? Petra imitates David with crude movements.

PETRA

How embarrassing of you. You put me through a very difficult time. El charro is macho. With his chest up. Firm. Sure of his manhood. Not with effeminate movements. And Mary… You know what I’m thinking? No. Of course you don’t. So many years in a cabaret make me think that I will never be able to get the ordinary out of you. La China Poblana is elegant, feminine… Don’t make me repeat myself. You know very well what I want. I want a well-executed dance. Not… vulgarities. Don’t you feel ashamed when a producer comes to see you and you dance like amateurs from a carpa?

 

The choreography of folkloric dances in Mexico dates back to postrevolutionary times, specifically to the 1920s and 1930s. “Jarabe Tapatío,” known outside of Mexico as “Mexican Hat Dance” became Mexico’s national dance, with la china poblana wearing tri-color hair bows (referencing the Mexican flag) and a colorful skirt embroidered with sequins depicting a national symbol (such as the eagle), and el charro in his mariachi hat. Most, if not all, professional and collegiate ballet folklórico companies have a version of the “Jarabe Tapatío” in their repertoire. The word “jarabe” means syrup, and “tapatío,” which comes from the Nahuátl word “Thapatiotl,”[xiii] is used to name people from the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital city. The dance originated from the “Guajolote,” a dance of the Huichol community where the male bird courts the female bird[xiv]. Similar to the “Guajolote,” in “Jarabe Tapatío” el charro, played by a male dancer, pursues la china poblana, played by a female dancer[xv]. “Jarabe Tapatío” is one of the works in ballet folklórico repertoires that perpetuates hegemonic gender roles in Mexican society. Maria del Carmen Vázquez Mantecón (2000) notes that la china poblana, as a symbol of Mexican identity, represented the “grace and virtue of the Mexican woman,” who served as the object of heterosexual male desire by balancing a dichotomy between wife or prostitute[xvi]. This character also appeared frequently in the writing of 19th-century authors who described her as a mestizo woman who did not conform to society standards but rather enjoyed the freedom of her love encounters. Similar to how la china poblana became a romanticized version of the Mexican woman, el charro became “the symbol of the ideal Mexican man”[xvii]. During the conquest, the Spanish brought horses to Mexico. Those who owned and knew how to ride these majestic animals were regarded as the upper class given their European ancestry. The hacendados (landowners) often knew how to break wild horses, ride them, and perform all sorts of tricks, a feat that reflected their male prowess and social standing. The patriarchal system of 19th century Mexico put men, regardless of class, in charge of women and children in the absence of the hacendado. As such, the vaqueros (horsemen) often learned how to execute these acts in spite of their socioeconomic class. This mixing of the upper, middle and lower classes in the charrería culture led to the formation of a male identity that denoted unity, an unbreakable code of ethics, and an unyielding bravery to defend the family and the hacienda[xviii]. After the revolution ended in 1920, a nationalistic discourse called for the romanticized construction of a specific image of el charro as a strong, skilled, hard-working man to represent male vigor. In ballet folklórico, this character came to represent masculine traits that were favored by the proponents of lo mexicano. As such, el charro often appeared “pursuing and ultimately capturing the woman” he partnered in the dance[xix]. To create material for my own iteration of the cuadro of “Jalisco,” specifically “Jarabe Tapatío,” the ensemble and I played with devised work. We created scenes that reflected the expectations that the social imaginary holds for Mexican women, especially as embodied by the character of la china poblana. The rehearsals led us into big and important discussions about the female body, as it relates to shape, size, and the color of the skin. For example, our work together inspired two of the 2020 cast members, Marina DeYoe-Pedraza and Erica Saucedo, to write a poem titled “Si yo fuera la china poblana” (If I was la china poblana). Below is a short excerpt.

                                                                                                           MARINA

 Si yo fuera la china poblana

I would… Go Wherever I want

kill and eat whatever I find.

Grow into una montaña alta y vasta

Too dangerous to climb

                                                                                                         ERICA 

                                                                         If you took all of our bones, Our bodies together

                                                                                               … bones piled on bones.

Bodies bodies cuerpos

Bodies that …are not ours

Que no han sido nuestros cuerpos for hundreds of years…

(Breath) it’s been a long time since these brown bodies could walk down the street

Soft

supple

MARINA

Si yo fuera la china poblana I would be Un Escorpión.

Defend myself by puncturing and poisoning those who try to smother me.

Through vivid imagery, Marina and Erica explore the possibility of escaping stereotypes and reclaiming agency by becoming either a scorpion, a horse, or even a mountain, all too dangerous for men to dominate. Marina, for example, imagines her china poblana able to defend herself from all predators that mean to subdue her. Through this poem, the dancers overtly expresses their desire to be “whatever [they] wanted.” Embodying Marina and Erica’s words, the three women of the cast (who also included Venese Alcantar) dance solos that combine contemporary technique, footwork and tender yet assertive movement. They manipulate their skirts and play with the contrast of softness and coarseness through varied movements such as jumps and turns and small and big gestures. In the word “puncturing,” for example, the dancers put their foot down and squash one of la china poblana’s metaphorical enemies. For the filmed version, we recorded the dancers’ voices reciting the poem and paired them with James Parker’s original music and filmed them dancing one at a time. We, then, played with video images of the three dancers (dancing as soloists), either one video of one dancer alone or sometimes two or three video/dancers superimposed. Since they often moved to the same choreography, the change from body to body, at times created the image of a palimpsest of the three women, generating the illusion that even though there were all different women, they shared common histories of oppression and a desire for freedom, and at times, revenge. (See figure 3).

Marina DeYoe-Pedraza, Erica Saucedo and Venese Alcantar in México (expropriated) by Jessica Peña Torres and the Ensemble Photo still from video by Michael Bruner. The Vortex, Austin, TX. October 2020.

For the 2022 staged version, I wanted to incorporate the new cast’s experiences around female agency. In rehearsal, we talked about their desires to be “whatever they wanted,” and everyone wrote what that prompt meant for them. I gathered their responses and sent them to a friend and poet, Mercy Medina Gonzalez, who wrote a new Spanish-language poem for the dancers to perform. Similar to the 2020 version, the dancers recorded their voices reciting the poem. For the live performances, the dancers moved to their own voices and words, poetically arranged by Mercy but embodied by them. It was their words, their voice, their bodies that we saw onstage. Below is an excerpt of the poem:

TODAS

Mujer. La Mujer Mexicana que ama y crea. Yo soy La China Poblana. La que entre las cortinas de sus temblores, busca el viento para alimentar sus alas.

MARY

Toma el suspiro del mundo por los cuernos, y conoce cómo llevarlo hasta las raíces del alma, a todas las esquinas que nos hacen hermosas. Si yo fuera ella, me enterraría bajo la tierra para crecer como mazorca blanda y aprender el nombre de los truenos. Sería curandera y bruja, el esperpento hecho verbo. Esa mujer canta conmigo. Yo soy La China Poblana

ERICA

La que escarba para hallar el murmullo de la tierra blanda y consume el ardor de los que se rindieron. No le teme ni a la sangre ni a los muertos y busca el aroma de las montañas más altas las cumbres del cielo que no toca; araña. Porque el mundo le debe plenitud y contento.

LOLA

La que es cuerpo mío y ajeno cuerpos de cuantas nos hemos caído la que nace de huesos y de ríos yo soy La China Poblana la serpiente que deja el cuello al pico de las águilas y el veneno de la araña cuando ataca un caballo que no se monta, un cuervo que arranca los ojos de quienes nos violentan. 

TODAS

La que conoce la amargura de la luna y carga con la sombra de los ciclos. Con su cuerpo mustio es el canal del eterno ir y venir de los vivos. No se aguanta, se transforma en la fuerza de todas las cruces enterradas en carreteras y montes.

ALL THE WOMEN

Woman. The Mexican Woman that loves and creates. I am La China Poblana. The one that between the curtains of her tremors, seeks the wind to feed her wings.

MARY

She takes the sigh of the world by the horns, and knows how to take it to the roots of the soul, to all the corners that make us beautiful. If I were her, I would bury myself under the ground to grow as soft cob and learn the name of thunder. I would be a healer and a witch, the grotesque made verb. That woman sings with me. I am La China Poblana

ERICA

The one who digs to find the murmur of the soft earth and consume the ardor of those who surrendered. She is not afraid of blood or the dead and seeks the scent of the highest mountains, the peaks of heaven that she does not touch; scratches. Because the world owes her fullness and contentment.

LOLA

The one that is my body and someone else’s bodies of how many we have fallen. The one that is born of bones and rivers I am La China Poblana the serpent that leaves the neck of the eagles beak and the venom of the spider when it attacks a horse that does not ride, a crow that plucks out the eyes of those who violate us.

ALL THE WOMEN

The one who knows the bitterness of the moon and carries the shadow of the cycles. With her withered body, it is the channel of the eternal coming and going of the living. She doesn’t endure, she becomes the force of all the crosses buried in roads and mountains. (See figure 4).

Andrea Rubí Santillán, Samantha Romero Peña, Miriam Garma, and Ileana Díaz Manzur in México (expropiado) by Jessica Peña Torres and Coctel Explosivo. Photo by Ricardo Antonio Ramos. Teatro Benito Juárez, Mexico City. April 2022

In both the 2020 and the 2022 version, our recreation of the character of la china poblana aims to provoke the audience’s affect by simultaneously reproducing visual and aural performances of female agency. Through the evocative descriptions pronounced by the women of the cast through their bodies and voices, we hoped to touch the audience’s sensibilities and make them wonder what it would be like if women could, in fact, be whatever they wanted. Utilizing text and contemporary dance, I sought to to dis-identify from folklórico dance traditions, specifically those inscribed in performances of the character of la china poblana.

CONCLUSION

Colorful lights, elegant costumes, presentational smiles and headpieces that not even Lady Gaga could dream of… ballet folklórico offers its audience a taste of Mexico’s regional and cultural diversity. Through my auto-ethnographical project that explores, among other themes, the politics of my mestizo body, I conclude that ballet folklórico desperately needs to be re-choreographed to reflect its colonial history of cultural appropriation and exoticization. I believe that professional, collegiate, and amateur companies of the form should revisit the way they incorporate the pieces of the canon into their repertory if they wish to stop perpetuating racist, heterosexist, classist, and unethical images of the diverse regions of Mexico. When audiences think about Mexico, they often think of the distinct mariachi music, the strong charros, the beautiful china poblana, and many other images that were conceived as components of mexicanidad in postrevolutionary Mexico. These images, however, continue to paint a romanticized vision of Mexico that has never existed. As a millennial coming of age in Reynosa, Tamaulipas ––known for making the headlines of major newspapers as an incubator for cartel violence and drugs–– I think of an alternative image of Mexico to the one painted through a full-length concert of ballet folklórico. Just in 2020, for instance, the number of femicides in my home country increased to an alarming 10 per day. Ballet folklórico does not present this reality, nor the one lived by the many marginalized communities in Mexico; there’s no room for the bad and the ugly in this form. Through Mexico (expropriated), I aimed to re-choreograph three pieces in the folklórico canon and complicate hegemonic images of mexicanidad. By deconstructing stereotypes of the nation as they relate to gender, race, and class, I aimed to dis-identify from the ballet folklórico form to complicate the discussion of what it means to be Mexican in the 21st century. Borrowing from contemporary dance, flamenco, jazz, hip hop, and burlesque, I reclaim the agency of my own body to re-choreograph cuadros such as “Jaliscoand recreate characters such as la china poblana.


Jessica L. Peña Torres (she/her) is a dance/theatre artist and emerging scholar focused on Mexican identity and performance. She graduated from The University of Texas—Pan American with a B.A. in Dance and Theatre and from the University of Texas at Austin with an M.A. in Performance as Public Practice, where she is now pursuing a Ph.D. At UT Austin, Peña Torres continues to study the intersection between nationalism and the performing arts in postrevolutionary Mexico. With her company, Coctel Explosivo, Peña Torres produces dance-theatre works that explore this intersection.


[i] “Audiciones,” Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández, Accessed November 22, 2018. http://balletfolkloricodemexico.com.mx.

[ii] TheCharlieRoll, “Amalia Hernández y el Ballet Folklórico de México – Entrevista y Documental de 1992,” YouTube, October 26, 2017, video, http://youtube.com/watch?v=hOPBBPR-G5Y

[iii] My master’s thesis “México (expropriated): Appropriation, Representation, and Rechoreography of Ballet Folklórico,” which I authored in the Spring 2020 to graduate from the Performance as Public Practice program at the University of Texas at Austin, explored the ballet folklórico dance form in imagining lo mexicano by focusing on Ballet Folklórico de México, Mexico’s leading and most influential company. I argued that BFM has helped the state and the social elite shape an exoticized Mexico for the consumption of foreigners and tourists, and has, within Mexico, offered a problematic embodiment of mexicanidad that reflects racial, nationalistic, class, and gender biases. In addition, I considered Hernández flawed ethnographic methodology which included appropriating and stylizing folk dances through the infusion of ballet and modern dance techniques. The company presents these dances as “authentic” to its paying audiences, and does not offer any reciprocity, support, or acknowledgment to the communities from which Hernández “borrowed” these dances. In addition, her legacy has and continues to permeate many dance companies who imitate BFM’s dances, inadvertently reproducing a colonialist model of exoticization and cultural theft.

[iv] Very much inspired by Astrid Hadad’s 2019 performance of Hecha in Mexico, I developed México (expropriated) to satirize stereotypical notions of mexicanidad as imagined by Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. Like Hadad, I aim to make a feminist intervention in national discourses of mexicanidad as developed in the postrevolutionary period.

[v] As Nelson explains, in PaR methodology the doing becomes the knowing. In other words, by dancing, choreographing, writing, and performing México (expropriated), I am both researching and providing evidence of my research inquiry. As Midgelow suggests, a PaR approach allows artist/scholars to explore the process of creating work as just as significant as the performance of that work before a live audience.

[vi] José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). [vii] Muñoz, “Disidentifications,” 5.

[viii] Muñoz, “Disidentifications,” 11.

[ix] In Chapter 5 “La Moda Mexicana: Exotic Women,” of Imagining la Chica Moderna : Women, Nation, and Visual Culture in Mexico, 1917-1936 (2008) Joanne Hershfield explores the concept of mexicanidad, the state’s attempt to construct a national identity at the beginning of the 20th century. Exploiting the richness of indigenous cultures, she argues that intellectuals and politicians forged an “authentic” image of Mexico, the “domestic exotic,” rooted in stereotypes of indigenous communities, which the nation then used for capitalist consumption.

[x] Muñoz, “Disidentifications,” 11.

[xi] I am influenced by my advisor and Professor Rebecca Rossen, whose book, Dancing Jewish (2014), includes three sections that describe an auto-ethnographic dance project for which she asked two of her subjects to make her a “Jewish” dance. Similarly, in México (expropriated), I explore notions of mexicanidad, as I actively think over the question “what is it to dance Mexican?” Moreover, in Dancing Jewish, Rossen argues that Jewish choreographers negotiate ethnicity and gender in tandem, while challenging “traditional models for femininity (or masculinity); advance social and political agendas; and imagine radical new possibilities for themselves as individuals, artists, and Jews.” Similarly, I argue that mexicanidad is a construction of hegemonic images that contain complex syntheses of gender, ethnicity, nationality, race, and class. Through the process of creating and performing this work, we have been able to imagine new possibilities to stage mexicanidad.

[xii] An important change from the filmed to the staged version is that we increased the number of roles from six to eight. For the filmed version, there were six performers including Venese Alcantar (“Veni”), David Cruz (“David”), Marina DeYoe-Pedraza (“Mari”), Jesus Valles (“EMCEE”), Erica Saucedo (“Eri”), and myself (“Pari”). For the staged version, we created three new characters, which featured Mexico City-based performers: José David Carrera Piñón (“Sebastian”), Miriam Garma (“Lola”), Daniel Losoya (”Narrador”), Ileana Manzur (“Veni” became “Vanessa”), Roberto Mosqueda (“David”), Samantha Romero (“Erica”), Andrea Rubí (“Mary”), and myself (“Pari” became “Petra”). Lastly, for the Mexico City live performance I was able to expand the creative team, which included costume designer Edurne Fernández, technical director Pedro Pazarán, and scenic designer Gisselle Gómez Rivera. Composer James Parker created the score for both versions. Another big change from film to stage was the narrative structure of the piece. The filmed version consisted of five separate viñetas (vignettes) following an episodic narrative form. Although the characters appeared through the different scenes, there was no unifying narrative between each separate viñeta. For the Spanish-only/staged adaptation, I worked with filmmaker and screenwriter Nina Chávez Góngora to re-develop the script for the staged version, which read more like a play with numerous dance pieces, often interrupted by the EMCEE, “Narrador.” Adapting the piece to include a unifying narrative throughout gave audiences a stronger chance to connect with the characters, which in turn led to a more effective way to communicate our critique.

[xiii] Cashion, quoted in Lawrence Alan Trujillo, The Spanish Influence On the Mexican Folkdance of Yucatán, Veracruz, And Jalisco, Mexico. (Denver: Dart Publications, 1974), 55.

[xiv] Lawrence Alan Trujillo, The Spanish Influence On the Mexican Folkdance of Yucatán, Veracruz, And Jalisco, Mexico. (Denver: Dart Publications, 1974), 58.

[xv] Sydney Hutchinson, “The Ballet Folklórico de México and the Construction of the Mexican                  Nation through Dance,” in Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos.                               (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 209.

[xvi], María del Carmen Vázquez Mantecón, “La China Mexicana, Mejor Conocida Como China Poblana,” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 22, no. 77 (2000): 124.

[xvii] Gabriela Mendoza-García, “The Jarabe Tapatío: Imagining Race, Nation, Class, and Gender in 1920s Mexico,” in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity, edited by Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 319.

[xviii] Olga Nájera Ramírez, “Engendering Nationalism: Identity, Discourse, and the Mexican Charro,Anthropological Quarterly 67, no. 1 (1994): 4.

[xix] Nájera Ramírez, “Engendering Nationalism,” 7.

Bibliography

“Audiciones.” Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández. Accessed November 22, 2018. http://balletfolkloricodemexico.com.mx. Hershfield, Joanne. 

Imagining La Chica Moderna Women, Nation, and Visual Culture in Mexico, 1917-1936. Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. Hutchinson, Sydney.

“The Ballet Folklórico de México and the Construction of the Mexican Nation through Dance.” In Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos, edited by Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Norma E. Cantú, and Brenda M. Romero. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009. Mendoza.García, Gabriela.

“The Jarabe Tapatío: Imagining Race, Nation, Class, and Gender in 1920s Mexico.” In The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity, edited by Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young, 319-343 Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Midgelow, Vida. Practice-as-Research. United Kingdom: 2018.

Muñoz, José Esteban. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Nájera Ramírez, Olga.

“Engendering Nationalism: Identity, Discourse, and the Mexican Charro.” Anthropological Quarterly 67, no. 1, (1994): 1-14. Nelson, Robin. Practice as Research in the Arts : Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances / Written and Edited by Robin Nelson, Director of Research, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, UK. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Peña Torres, Jessica. “México (expropriated): Appropriation, Representation and Re- Choreography of Ballet Folklórico.” Austin: University of Texas at Austin, 2020.

Rossen, Rebecca. Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

TheCharlieRoll. “Amalia Hernández y el Ballet Folklórico de México – Entrevista y Documental de 1992.” YouTube. October 26, 2017. Video. http://youtube.com/watch?v=hOPBBPR-G5Y. Trujillo, Lawrence Alan.

The Spanish Influence On the Mexican Folkdance of Yucatán, Veracruz, And Jalisco, Mexico. Denver: Dart Publications, 1974. Vázquez Mantecón, María del Carmen.

“La China Mexicana, Mejor Conocida Como China Poblana.” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 22, no. 77, (2000): 123-150.

css.php