Victor Arce, general director of the production “Espejo de Luna” (Mirror of Moon), spoke with obvious pride Wednesday, just before his 12-member dance group, all high school students at Preparatoria Regional de Chapala, performed at Guadalajara’s Teatro Experimental.
The event was an encore after a presentation at Lakeside’s Auditorio de la Ribera ten days earlier.
“They’re not professionals yet, but they’re surrounded by professionals,” Arce emphasized.
Arce studied (and performed) contemporary dance at the University of Guadalajara, and since then has received national grants and prizes for his choreography. Eduardo Buendia, the musical director for the 10-member ensemble Cantoamérica, which teamed up with Arce’s dancers in “Espejo,” likewise boasts an impressive background. He founded Cantoamérica 20 years ago, can play all the instruments his young musicians do (various percussions, guitars and keyboard) and specializes in finding, rescuing and arranging traditional Mexican tunes. He works at another University of Guadalajara-affiliated high school, Preparatoria 10, located on the north side of the metropolitan area.
Arce and Buendia brought their two groups together to perform Latin American music in “Espejo,” which Arce choreographed and stage-directed. With an emphasis on indigenous percussion instruments, Cantoamérica played energetically behind the dancers, bringing the calibre of the evening well above the average high school performance.
More pleasant surprises: Chapala’s contingent of four young male dancers, although outnumbered by the girls, gave fine and athletic performances. Their costumes – short, light-colored pants and shirts – were imaginative, yet had a traditional flair.
All the dancers constantly pulled off athletic feats. The girls moved energetically and gracefully (and always barefoot – brrr!), whether writhing like “mermaids” through the “sea” in pastel halters and shorts, or leaping and twirling in long, ruffled skirts during the contemporary/traditional fusion routines. Both the male and female costumes were understated (at least compared to traditional, super-elaborate Mexican dance wear) but such minimalist costumes didn’t prevent the young people from being expressive and alluring. It was especially good to see normal girls of different shapes and sizes dance so well and so energetically, proving you don’t have to be emaciated to be a “ballerina.”
Among Cantoamérica’s black-suited musicians, Laura Pérez distinguished herself as a fine, confident soloist and the vocal harmonies and general tightness of the group proved outstanding.
As if to prove that everyone has music like that in their blood, “Espejo” ended with the performers coming into the audience to invite people onstage to dance. The audience obliged them and there was not a clumsy dancer to be seen, even if one grandmother had to be helped back to her seat after kicking up her heels.