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4 Generations: Son Mexicano In California PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 09 August 2012 02:44

A new production, 4 Generations: Son Mexicano in California, premiering at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, this Friday, Aug. 10, hopes to do more than entertain, it seeks to demonstrate the love for Mexico's traditional arts that has been kept alive by those born on the north side of the border.

Mexican American/Chicano actors, dancers and musicians have have kept Mexican art forms alive over many decades said the show's organizers and have popularized these art traditions to become familiar Californian and U.S traditions.

The production, showcases many of those that have become musicians and dancers following the Chicano movement in the 1960's and 70's and also addresses through the power of the stage, the present day struggles in the Mexican American community, including the controversial ban on books in Arizona.

"With actor Rene Rivera, this production will celebrate and tell our story of history, art and activism," said Javier Verdin, of Ballet Folklorico Ollin.

"We've invited Sean Arce and Roberto Rodriguez from Tucson to not only come to our performance but to part of it on stage with us," said Verdin. "Ballet Folklorico Ollin has also supported those in the community who have needed us."

Ballet Folklorico Ollin, based in Panorama City and CSUN professor Fermin Herrera will be honored for teaching hundreds of dancers and musicians over decades.

Performers who were past and present students, who have been branches from their "community tree" will be part of this production. An example of their years teaching, the oldest dancer on stage will be 93- year- old Grace Regalado, a member of the East Los Angeles senior dance troupe, Los Hilos de Plata. "I've been dancing since 1991 and was taught to dance by Virginia Diediker," [of Ballet Folklorico Ollin,] "I started dancing when I was 71 years old, and God willing will keep dancing."

Regalado said she previously took three buses to get to her dance classes at the East L.A. Center on First Street. "Now my daughter is able to take me. People are always curious when they see me carrying my costumes and I tell them I'm in a dance group. They ask me what my secret is and I tell them I never skip breakfast.

"Sometimes people ask what my husband thinks, and I tell them if he were still here, I probably wouldn't know them, I'd be at home with all of my responsibilities. But he passed, so I'm my own boss."

Regalado said she enjoys seeing the teenagers and small children Folklorico dancing. The youngest dancer who will be on stage with Regalado will be 8-year-old Mariana who is known for always dancing with a wide joyful smile. Also representing the 4th and even the 5th generation of young artists, the Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando, the performance arm of the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program is also part of this show.

"We don't need to import talent from Mexico, it's right here, Herrera said.

Herrera with Conjunto Hueyapan, members of his immediate and extended family and Hermanos Herrera are part of the performance. Many of his colleagues and students are expected to attend the show. Herrera is also noted for the contribution he has made as master musician of the Mexican harp and for influencing generations about the music Son Mexicano and Son Jarocho, the music from Mexico's countryside and from the region of Veracruz.

With a strong script that voices the concern about the loss of literature, culture, art and education with the civil rights battle currently being waged in Arizona, the performance also expresses the point that Mexican music and culture is entrenched within American culture. Whether it's in the familiar song sung by Ritchie Valens or Los Lobos rendition of La Bamba, it's musical roots are Mexican but are now a strong part of the American fabric.

The American born Mexican has respected traditional art forms and brought their own brand of Mexican art making it commonplace and penetrated U.S. Culture and art, making these traditions now equally American traditions.

The influence of the Mexican American/Chicano has impacted both sides of the border. This is apparent in traditions and holidays that now are celebrated throughout U.S. Cities including Cinco De Mayo, Las Posadas, the 16th of September, Dia de los Muertos the Day of the Dead and even Three Kings Day. Making this point of this blending of culture, Ballet Folklorico was called to perform at Disneyland's first Three Kings Day celebration last December.

Actor Rene Rivera is the thread that weaves the night's performance together. More than the evening's master of ceremonies, he is the night's story teller that reads from a book that is aptly called 4 Generations Son Mexicano in California.

Ticket prices for the show are now $35 and $12 for full-time students with ID and children 12 and under. Tickets are available at or (323) 461-3673. For groups of eight or more, please call (323) 769-2147.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 07:34