National Ballet Director Invites You

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I’ve told you about this season’s “not-to-be-missed” ballet gala with lead dancers from Mexico’s best dance companies: the National Bellas Artes as well as the Ballet de Monterrey. They will be joined on stage by top students from two of Mexico’s leading ballet schools—in Veracruz and Monterrey—as well as from a local mazatlecan ballet academy.

The International Ballet Gala will take place on Sunday November 17th at 6:00 pm in the Angela Peralta Theater. It is a fundraiser for DIF Mazatlán, which helps families in need. Tickets are available at the Angela Peralta box office or by sending a WhatsApp to Carolina at +52-1-669-941-2550 and paying via PayPal. There is only one performance, so be sure to secure your good seats now.

On Monday I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to host the Director of the National Dance Company, Maestro Cuahutémoc Nájera, in our home. He and his wife make their home here in Mazatlán, and have high hopes for our local cultural and dance scene. He tells me how much he loves the Angela Peralta Theater, and how he performed there as a young dancer, before it was completely remodeled.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the maestro. He is very easy to talk to, charming, and down to earth, counter to the stereotype of so many talented artists. Below is the promo video for the event. Get your tickets now, as I’m confident this event will sell out.

Humble Beginnings Don’t Hold Him Back!

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+ The Masculine Form (project in development)
Photos: @santiago_barreiro @insidenatgeo #insidenatgeo

Most every society worldwide seems to be suffering a breakdown in the social fabric these days, a rise in corruption and violence, a loss of the values that make individuals and our communities healthy.

Maestro Cuahutémoc Nájera—the director of Mexico’s National Ballet Company—and his wife, Maestra Carolina Rios, strongly believe in the power of dance to strengthen communities and build strong, healthy, disciplined and principled individuals. Luckily for us, they live here and see dance as a tool to secure a better future for Mazatlán and México. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The maestros shared with me a post by es+Cultura that I found to be extremely powerful, and I have translated it for you below:

“Seven years ago the priest told Aaron’s grandma, Magda, ‘get him out of that ballet; the kids there become gay.” To avoid conflict she agreed, though she never followed through, because her grandson’s dream was to be a dancer and she was going to support him.

Aaron de Jesús Márques is one of the talents discovered by a program (PROVER) that seeks to promote dance in the city of Córdoba, in the state of Veracruz, giving scholarships to boys from complex social contexts. If the boy has needs and the desire, they pay for his studies, transportation, equipment and food for eight years, eight hours a day. The low enrollment of men in the private academy of Martha Sahagún was the impulse for this project, which now has various generations promoting the talent and diversity of Veracruz.

When he was barely seven years old Aaron didn’t even know what ballet was, in fact, the term didn’t sound familiar, but when the opportunity presented itself he didn’t hesitate even a minute to run up to the teacher who conducted the auditions to show her his physical conditioning. Months later when he’d begun his training, he understood that what his body was really asking him for was to dance ballet, and now no one would get in his way.

Aaron lives with his grandmother, or better said, his mother, as that’s what he likes to call her. She raised him once his Dad died and his biological mother emigrated for a better life economically. Magda supported the family. She was responsible for feeding, taking care of and giving life to the dreams of her grandson. The career of a classical ballet dancer involves a lot of dedication and discipline; it is a family project and in most cases requires the moral support of a feminine head of the household.

Classical dance gave the boy a stylizing manner to move his body, it proposed a language in which it wasn’t necessary to use impact and force like so many other disciplines. Aaron dances to express himself without words, to liberate himself from the structure that questions, violates and judges masculine feelings.

The exercise of classical western dance has implicated from its beginnings situations of violation and exclusion, it has generated negative stereotypes against men who pursue this discipline as a way of life. The hegemonic precepts around what it means to “be a man” in Latin American culture tend to determine how ballet is seen as art. In this 21st century, respect for the male dancer still hasn’t penetrated deeply into society, where machismo and its prejudices only put pride in “manly” sports . With this line of reasoning, dance is habitually associated with femininity. In this sense, there are unequal conditions for dancers, with men playing subordinate roles. This conception brings with it endless social conflicts. Today’s man tries to feel, express and free himself from established obligations (to procreate, provide, protect). However, society insists on assigning gender roles when and where they should not be. Dance in and of itself should not divide, distinguish or bias.

Aaron and some of his colleagues, plus his teacher, will be here in Mazatlán on Sunday, 17th November, performing in the Angela Peralta Theater at 6:00 pm, along with principal dancers from Mexico’s two best ballet companies: Ballet de Monterrey and the National Bellas Artes. Get your tickets at the box office now or WhatsApp Carolina at 52-1-669-941-2550; the performance benefits DIF Mazatlán (local families in need).

In the video below, Maestro Nájera tells us a bit about Aaron’s terrific program in Cordoba, Veracruz, where for the past ten years street kids have been given a new lease on life and a future in professional dance through educational and dance scholarships with amazing results.

Carolina dedicates herself to teaching young students; she owns and runs a dance school up in the marina. In the video below, she talks to me about the ways she has witnessed dance helping her students to be stronger, healthier, with higher self esteem, more cooperative and disciplined, and her plans for programming in the public spaces of Mazatlán.

Personal Invite to 2 Art Events

I hope you’ll join me for two events, both to be held a couple of blocks from one another in Centro Histórico on Friday, November 22nd.

Book ReadingThe first will be a reading from the book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats. Edited by Janet Blaser—who will facilitate the event—the book is a terrific read for anyone thinking about life abroad or already living it. Local residents Susie Morgan, Nancy Seelye, Lisa Lankins and yours truly will be reading from our chapters.

Please join us at El Recreo, Constitución 209, from 3:00 – 5:00 pm on Friday Nov. 22, 2019 for the book event. The event requires registration, and will have a 50 peso or so fee to cover the venue rental.

Magic of Black and White

Then, have a nice dinner somewhere and join us again at 7:00 pm for the very first group art exhibit that I have curated! It will be a photo show entitled, The Magic of Black and White. If you click “Going” on the Facebook link, it will remind you so you don’t miss this terrific opening. Participating photographers include Alwin van der Heiden, Lucila Santiago, Marcopolo Amarillas, Christian Lizárraga, and yours truly.

The photo exhibit will open on Friday, Nov. 22, at 6:30 pm in Baupres Gallery, next to Casa Haas on Heriberto Frías, across from Hector’s. There will be wine and hors d’oeuvres. The show will continue every day through 21st December, 2019. I very much hope that I’ll see you and your friends there!

Please help me pass the word about both of these events. Be sure to put them in your calendar so you don’t miss out! They’ll both be a lot of fun, and you’ll be supporting and encouraging your creative neighbors and friends.

The Sand Man Daniel Fermín

DSC_5685-HDR©Remember when Mazatlán had frequent sand sculpture contests? I do; I absolutely LOVED them!

Enter a young man from Zihuatanejo, Daniel Fermín, who currently studies visual arts in Morelia. He is in Mazatlán from now through Christmas, and is making his living via the tips we give him in exchange for enjoying his sand art.

Daniel was making a different sand sculpture every day, starting at 6 am and ending at sunset. On Wednesday he made a giant catrina; on Thursday a sand castle. He tells me he may keep the castle up for a while, even though castles are not his favorites. But he says he makes better tips with castles because the public seems to prefer them to other designs. Personally, the photo he had of an octopus he sculpted was my favorite. I asked him if he’d do that here, and he wouldn’t commit. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

He asks that if you go to admire his work and take photos that you please leave him a little something to help keep him fed. I think that the major hotels in town should commission Daniel to personalize a sculpture for them and their guests, and do photo ops! Don’t you think, local empresarios??? The guy who rents umbrellas is helping him out, and a local family is graciously putting him up.

Daniel can be found on the beach below the Fisherman’s Monument. Be sure to check out him and his creations from time to time through the rest of the year.

Below are a few more pics that I couldn’t resist taking during our visit. I hope you enjoy them.

Aviation Themed Restaurant

DSC_1747©We have all watched it for nearly a year, it seems—the restaurant on the ground floor of Torre M on the malecón. Why was it taking so long to be built? Why the name “altitude” when it’s on the ground floor?

The good news is Altitud Restaurant and Bar will open for business tomorrow, Saturday 31 August. We toured the inside today with manager Ariel Campos as part of the press conference for a local run.

I absolutely love the interior. There are not many themed restaurants in Mazatlán, and this one has kept with theirs to the letter. The kitchen is housed in an airplane, the stairs to the second floor are through an airplane door, the upstairs seating area looks like the waiting area in an airport, the bar includes the tail section of a plane, the tables all have aviation themes as do the photos on the walls, the wait staff are dressed like flight attendants, there are even airline seats and storage cubbies in the reception area! Needless to say, I was charmed and impressed with the attention to detail. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

I can not vouch for the food, as this morning’s press conference included sandwiches, fruit and coffee—not Altitud’s normal menu items. The menu seems creative and keeps with the theme. The pictures of chef Alex Gutierrez’ food on the television screens looked very delectable.

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The wait staff this morning were very friendly and highly attentive; let’s hope that continues. Let’s cross our fingers, as a delicious and fun addition to Mazatlán’s restaurant scene, and one with an ocean view, is highly welcome!

When I asked about operating hours, I got ambiguous answers, so I’d keep checking back with their Facebook page or give them a call. Fingers crossed!