Review: Ballet Folclórico de la Universidad de Guadalajara @ SDH
St David's Hall, Cardiff
Wednesday 8th July 2015
A special night in Cardiff, for the fine folk of Mexico bring a special music and dance performance to Wales.
The Ballet Folclorico de la Universidad de Guadalajara are a traditional Mexican dance revival troupe offering song, dance and colours that celebrate the vibrancy and history of Mexico, transpiring and transcending race and culture to deliver a unique performance guaranteed to make your feet tap and your heart swell with stamping feet and searing music.
St David's Hall is the venue and the crowd is relatively full and look to be looking forward to the performance, perhaps having seen or known about the show already, there's a good mix of ages and people here for the night.
The performers of Ballet Folclorico de la Universidad de Guadalajara are in high spirits for the warm summery evening, and a special introduction from a Mexican Ambassadorial Consulate opens the show with the large troupe emerging onto the darkened stage, all at once lit up with colour and music. The opening burst of festivities from the stage immediately captures your attention and you're entranced by the glorious swishing dresses of the ladies and caterwauling of the dancers as the nine-piece Mariachi band play traditional music that is indistinguishably Mexican in tonality.
The production of the show stands out as a sumptuous affair of beautiful colours and choreography, although it could be argued that the dance itself is not as strict as ballroom, say; but is that not the point? Their dance recitals are passionate, flavoursome and enthralling, embracing everything in their history with smiles and shouts. Surely the performance is meant to evoke the life and atmosphere of a country rather than succumb to strict recital and consistency of rhythm.
They perform routines capturing various parts of the cultural background of Mexico, from interpretive dances of labouring in fields, to a comedic routine for the elderly and stand-out dances involving fishing and bull chasing, all the way to (drunken) flirtations in bars, dancing around bottles of tequila no less! The dancers perform all of their routines with huge smiles and punctuate the dance with idiosyncratic yells and shrieks, helping ground the performance and keep it alive with their passion and pride.
A huge troupe of dancers are on offer, counting no less than 15 senores and senoritas apiece, and each one moves with the rest like a, well like a Mexican wave! The costumes are beautifully made, especially the ever-changing dresses for the ladies, and the occasional singing makes for some lovely harmonies.
The sheer energy of the performers keeps the show going, as it seems to all become slightly repetitious as it nears the end. It remains dynamic throughout and the short performance time helps it from becoming stale, but this is an exhibition performance in essence and the tenacity of the performers ensure the audience is totally immersed in their music and rhythm.
Stomping dances and some impressive choreography mixed with the beautiful music and songs make for a unique performance that could've been mired by perfunctory imagery and sounds. It was a wonderful experience, and the encore brought a standing ovation and a special presentation from St David's Hall to the producer and director of the show.
A buenas noches was had by all!
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