Time to Return to the Theater!

This past Saturday evening, November 6, Delfos Contemporary Dance Company put on an outstanding show at 7:30 pm in the Angela Peralta Theater. The performance, directed by Víctor Manuel Ruíz Becerra, was dedicated to co-founder Claudia Lavista’s recently departed father, and what a tribute it was! Entitled “Painting that Moves,” the dances reflected the lives and work of Salvador Dalí, Leonardo Da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Toulouse Lautrec, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, William Turner, Vincent Van Gogh, Remedios Varo, and Diego Velázquez. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

Heavy on the Spanish, particularly Catalán painters, what fascinated me was that this performance was not so obvious. The choreography and scenography did not directly replicate the painters’ work, but most definitely evoked the spirit of the painters’ lives and work. The transitions between pieces were also masterful, weaving together elements of each seamlessly.

Throughout the evening audience members wondered why the stage was wrapped in white paper, much like a gift to the audience. That became clear during the last choreography, when the colorful paint splatters of Jackson Pollack fell from hanging cans all over the performers, to culminate in an exhuberant communal climax.

Nine dancers played multiple roles with quick costume and energy changes: Johnny Millán, Surasí Lavalle, Karla Núñez, Xitlali Piña, Daniel Marín, Diego Alcalá, Jonathan Alavés, Luisa Escobosa, and Rodrigo Agraz, as part of the 2021 Mazatlán Cultural Festival.

This was the first event in the theater I have attended in quite some time, due to the pandemic/endemic. I want to let you all know that I felt very comfortable during the evening. Cultura issued many reminders for those attending to keep on their masks, there was an empty seat between groups, and people were staggered between rows. The main level was fairly full, given the seating restrictions, and I would guess the first balcony was perhaps one-third full based on current capacity. Now that we are vaccinated, it would seem to me to be worth it to get out and about, safely, again. 

You will have another terrific chance next Saturday November 13th when our local ballet company celebrates its tenth anniversary! Can you believe it’s already been ten years? What a gift to Mazatlán these two companies are, the ballet and the contemporary dance. Be sure to get your tickets as no doubt the theater will fill.

Tickets (really) Available Online!

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Yes! It’s true! Really! This time it works! As of this past Monday we can buy tickets to CULTURA Mazatlán events in the Angela Peralta theater online!

Mazatlán is blessed with world-class cultural events—my beloved opera, classic and modern dance, theater, music—but until now domestic and international tourists have been frustrated by an inability to purchase tickets in advance of their travel to Mazatlán. Residents have also been frustrated. Those who live outside the Centro Histórico have for years been handicapped—we fight traffic and torn-up roads only to get to the theater to find the box office isn’t open. Good tickets get sold out before we can get any, or we have to impose on friends who live downtown to get them for us. Even those who live downtown can struggle.

Our prayers have fortunately been answered. Even though for years it’s been announced that people can buy online, the system never worked. Lic. Raul Rico and his staff wanted to farm out the work, but the municipality said they wanted to do it in-house. They never did. Finally, however, the IT people at the municipio have come through! So far, the online purchase does not work for events in Casa Hass and elsewhere, but I’m told that will come soon. Fingers crossed.

The process for purchasing tickets online is as follow:

  1. Begin at the calendar/cartelera: http://www.culturamazatlan.mx/calendario.php  Sadly this page is currently only in Spanish. Cultura has been looking for months for English-language assistance…
  2. Click on the event of interest to you, and you will see (in Spanish) the date, time and location at the top of the pop-up window. Below it will appear intended audience, ticket prices and a summary of the event. On the upper right you will see an aqua blue box that reads Comprar boletos (buy tickets).
  3. Once you click on Comprar boletos, on the next page you will need to select the time of the performance you wish, and then click Continuar sin registrarme, or “Continue without registering.” Alternatively you can enter your “Yo + Cultura” card information to track your purchase for goodies.
  4. Once you finish there, the system will take you to a map of the venue. As you mouse over the seats available the ticket prices appear. Click on the desired seats, and click on Confirmar tu compra or “Confirm your purchase.”
  5. You’ll be taken to a confirmation page where, if everything is ok, you’ll click Realiza tu pago or “Enter your payment.”
  6. The next page will ask you for your email (correo electrónico) and cell phone number. This is great, because you’ll get a confirmation email for your purchase, and they will send the tickets themselves to your cell phone!  So, be sure to enter the numbers correctly and double- and triple-check them. That way, you can print them out, or you can just have a virtual copy on your phone to show at the door and save a tree.
  7. On the final page you’ll enter your payment information:
    1. Cardholder name (Nombre del titular)
    2. Card number (Número de tarjeta). Supposedly any credit or debit card except American Express will work.
    3. Expiration date (month/year)—Vigencia (mes/año)
    4. Security code (Código de seguridad/CVV2)

I trust you are as excited about this news as I am. Kudos to the city, and to the folks at Cultura, for getting this done. It’s obviously the new administration who will get the advantage of all their hard work—what a wonderful parting gift—but the biggest winners should be all of us who enjoy our Cultura events!

400 Years of Japan-Mexico Relations:舞書楽


This year is the 400th anniversary of diplomatic and trade relations between my two beloved adopted nations: Mexico, with which I fell in one when I was 12, and Japan, with which I fell in love when I was 19. And oh, what a love affair both have been!

On Thursday, December 5, we were fortunate to be able to attend a performance entitled
「舞書楽」—  MaiShoGaku, or “dance, calligraphy and music,” written and performed by Irene Akiko Iida, choreographed by her and Arturo Tames, with music by Alejandro Méndez.

The piece is the story of the inner struggles of a Buddhist monk to achieve enlightenment, struggling with the elements of water and fire, using the discipline of calligraphy to work through and free himself from emotion. Accompanied by taiko drumming and some incredible vocalizations, it made for an evening far from the norm here in Mazatlán.

As always, thank you CULTURA Mazatlán, for helping us retain our cultural connections with the world in which we live.

Baños Roma

P1050706 Coming into the Angela Peralta Theater on Saturday, October 12, the doors to the theater remained closed. I asked my girlfriend if we were late, as I wasn’t wearing a watch. I knew we were 10 minutes before curtain time. “You are fine,” said the usher. “Just walk down here and turn right.” As we walked down a long, dark hallway, I wondered if this was some sort of early Halloween or Day of the Dead prank. But, no, we were being ushered ONTO the stage!

What a feeling! I of course turned around, looked out at that gorgeous theater, and hammed it up a bit. My moment of fame on the stage! The stage was set up very simply, with several folding tables, a few props, a large television screen and video camera, and hooks hanging from the catwalks overhead. There were bleachers set up on the stage, facing this smaller performance area. Cool! We took a seat.

As we waited, a guy dressed as a painter used a roller on an extension pole to paint some very cool scenes. Then, just before the play started, he painted over it all. Heartbreak. But very interesting. (Video below) They ended up using the white wall as a projection screen during the performance. And the dog that just happened to be wandering around the stage before the play, dovetailing seamlessly with the evening’s performance—pure serendipity.

575701_1453595308199633_913620309_nThe play we were about to see was entitled, “Baños Roma,” by the internationally renowned theater troupe, Teatro Línea de Sombra. I knew it was the story of José Ángel (Mantequilla) Nápoles, the famous Cuban-Mexican boxer (career of 78 wins and 7 losses, with 55 wins by knockout), interwoven with the story of the horrible violence and cultural illness that took over Ciudad Juárez and the “Baños Roma” neighborhood. I am most interested in the latter, so was looking forward to the play. It did not disappoint. In fact, the actors and production company received a standing ovation! We were all so incredibly moved by the performance that people hung around, talking, watching. The ushers actually had to ask people to leave!

What made this performance so incredible? Of course, the narrative: both stories are incredibly powerful and emotive, and they were woven together seamlessly, dovetailing and building on one another. What really stood out to me, however, was the unbelievable creativity of the performance. With an extreme minimalism of props and sets, we were taken inside the experiences of the “lost women” of Ciudad Juárez. Sawdust on the floor served first as a dance floor, then as a map of the city on which to draw the layout of streets. A punching bag was filled with fabrics; unpacking it showed clothing and memories. Actors took turns in extreme closeup to a camera, and spoke to us via large screen projection. Scales were laid down on the floor to represent weigh-ins and weight categories for boxers. We listened to the metamorphosis of an amazingly talented throat-voice actor, and then he also played the sax. A live band came in at one point, during a drinking party on stage. A can of white spray was shot into the air to represent snow falling on a dead dog, the memory of a woman in the story. Another woman died, or was killed, in front of us, and the dramatic simplicity was heartbreaking. Punching bags hung from the catwalk transformed into poles for exotic dancing. It was the best of a Mexican performance—raw, poetic, ferocious—and the best of creative minimalism. (Photos below)

Thank you, CULTURA Mazatlán, for bringing this here! And for 120 pesos a ticket, you permitted me to pay for my friend!

Línea de la Sombra is a traveling troupe, so if you get a chance to watch them, don’t miss it!