‘4 Generations’: Son Mexicano in California

Performance Aug. 10 at Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

By Diana Martinez, Special to EGP

Members of the East Los Angeles senior dance troupe Los Hilos de Plata will be among the “4 Generations” of performers that will be celebrated August 10th at the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. This performance showcases  ”4 generations” of Mexican American actors, dancers and musicians from Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

”It will be such a beautiful sight to see our oldest dancer, 94-year-old Grace Regalado dancing next to our youngest dancer, 8-year-old, Mariana,” said Virginia Diediker, co-founder of Ballet Folklorico Ollin. “That generational scene of beauty will be repeated over and over again with the young and older musicians, dancers and actors on stage throughout the show,” she said.

This show highlights Mexican American/Chicano performing artists, most of whom were born out of the Chicano movement. “Their expression represents traditional Mexican art forms but also represents the Californian folkloristas – artists who are a blend of two cultures,” said Javier Verdin, co-founder of Ballet Folklorico Ollin.

Grace Regalado, 94, (right) dances next to Ballet Folklorica Ollin’s youngest dancer, 8-year-old, Mariana (center). Photo courtesy of Virginia Diediker

California’s Mexican American and Chicano artists have kept Mexican art forms and traditions alive over many decades and popularized them so much so that they have become U.S. traditions and part of the American fabric. This story, “4 Generations: Son Mexicano in California” will be told by Juilliard trained actor, Rene Rivera, as a celebration of history, art and activism.

“Whether it’s the impact of our social struggles or the integration of our music and culture, it is seen and felt every day,” said Verdin. “It’s our influence on U.S. culture that has popularized the song, “La Bamba,” or the holidays, Cinco De Mayo or Dia de Los Muertos, they are all examples of music and holidays now shared and celebrated on both sides of the border and are enriched back and forth.” Verdin explained. “We don’t need to import talent from Mexico to perform traditional Mexican music and dance,” said professor Fermin Herrera: “The talent is here.”

A renowned Mexican harpist, Herrera, of Conjunto Jarocho Hueyapan, has devoted his career to the skill and artistry of jarocho music. Conjunto Hueyapan founded in 1973 is a family ensemble, featuring Herrera, his three brothers, his sister, Maria Isabel, and Fermin’s two sons, Xocoyotzin and Motecuhsomah. In addition to performing, the group has worked tirelessly over the years to document and preserve son mexicano (a particular type of Mexican folk music from the countryside) in general and son jarocho (a traditional musical style of Veracruz, Mexico) in particular.

“He is one of the first people in California who has truly influenced generations about an entire genre of music and he has taught hundreds of students as a professor at CSUN and has performed internationally,” said Diediker. Herrera, along with Ballet Folklorico Ollin, one of the oldest folklorico dance troupes in California, will both be acknowledged at this performance for teaching “4 Generations.”

“I see the show more as a tribute to all the wonderful musicians, dancers and storytellers who are from California and contributed to the preserving and sharing of our culture,” Herrera said. “If they are using me as a symbol of that, well, all I can say is that I pay homage to all of them.”

The work of Ballet Folklorico Ollin and Professor Herrera are examples of groups born out of the Chicano movement who have had a mission to teach anyone who wanted to learn. In that spirit, many artists have thrived and now span “4 Generations.”  Among them, the multi-talented Los Hermanos Herrera, (all UCLA graduates) and the nationally recognized youth groups, Mariachi Masters Apprentice Program and Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando. All these young talented musicians will play onstage alongside those who have been their teachers, including master musicians (Sergio Alonso and Chuy Guzman of Mariachi Los Camperos) for this performance.

In addition to honoring those artists who have paved the way, Diediker said organizers hope the evening will draw attention to the challenges and struggles that exist today, including the fight for educational, cultural, artistic and literary freedom in Arizona.

Ticket prices for the show start at $30 and $12 for full-time students with ID and children 12 and under. Tickets are available at www.FordTheatres.org or (323) 461-3673. For groups of eight or more, please call (323) 769-2147.

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August 2, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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