A couple of weeks ago we went to see the Ballet Folklórico by Amalia Hernandez at the Castillo de Chapultepec. I had been buzzing with excitement about it on twitter and here on the blog, but in reality I had no idea what to expect. Well, I am happy to report that it was well worth all of my buzzing.
First, it gave us a rare view of the city from the castle at night. The Castillo de Chapultepec is perched high on a hill in the Bosque de Chapultepec overlooking Reforma. The park closes at 7-8pm most nights, so while I have run up the hill to the castle a hundred times during daylight, I had never seen the view at night. It was pretty spectacular.
We walked around the grounds of the castle while we were waiting for the show to begin and I idly wondered why there were so many people in jeans. When they let us in to our seats I quickly realized why. The show was not IN the castillo, it was OUTSIDE on the terrace with the castillo serving as a dramatic backdrop. Beautiful as the stage was, I was woefully underdressed; as in: I was going to be freezing. Luckily, my gallant husband let me throw his coat over my legs and all was well. [Well, for me] But a word of advice for those attending the show in the winter months - dress warmly!
The show was as beautiful as ever - If you aren’t familiar with the program it features dances from different regions of Mexico. Like most ballets, the costumes and dancers and some choreography might change from season to season, but the core program remains the same. I’ve seen it so many times I have my favorites: I love the romance of the charreria [when he kisses her inside the rope I just want to die] and the symbolism and athleticism of la danza del venado.
The costumes are truly spectacular - the women look beautiful in their colorful dresses and the men look so handsome. The dancers are incredibly talented to be sure, but it’s even more remarkable that they always look like they are having so much FUN. I think that is the main difference between a ballet folklórico and any other dance performance I have ever seen - this one looks like the most fun.
The grand finale is the Jarabe Tapatío, the Mexican Hat Dance. It was once banned by colonial authorities because it challenged Spanish rule and was too overtly sexual. It is my absolute favorite, and the sexy mariachi pants are certainly a highlight. You can’t help leaving a performance with streamers in your hair smiling from ear to ear.
While I am a fan of the ballet folklórico in all of its venues, seeing it at the castillo was a really special treat. There are several Christmas performances next week and into the first week of January. If you are in Mexico City for the holidays, I’d say it is a must see - just wear a warm jacket and maybe bring a blanket!
Visit the official site here for performance schedules and ticket information