Mexican Fiesta is definitely my favorite of the festivals; maybe because my last name is Chavez, maybe because this festival features dance on nearly every single one of its stages, maybe because this year there are TWO professional ballet companies performing! Milwaukee Ballet is back after a two year hiatus from performing at the Fiesta and new to festival - the Compañia Estatal de Danza Clásica y Neoclásica de Jalisco (for you non-Spanish speakers, that’s Jalisco’s classical and neoclassical ballet company!) This summer a grupo fantastico of dancers will be celebrating the art form and promoting the upcoming season: Company Members Susan Gartell, Matt Frain, David Hovhannisyan, Barry Molina and Petr Zahradnícek, Milwaukee Ballet II Member Jenna Sagraves, recent MBII graduate Erica Alvarado and Milwaukee Ballet School student Monica Peppel.
This amistad (friendship) with Mexican Fiesta started many years ago in a conversation Rolando Yanes and I had with then school parent, Teresa Mercado. Teresa is the Director of Mexican Fiesta and a big fan of ballet. She wondered what the possibilities would be of bringing ballet to the Cultural Village (the Potowatomi Stage) that transforms into an artisan center of crafts and culture over the festival weekend. She has always believed strongly that ballet is a perfect fit at Fiesta – after all, dance is an vital part of Mexican culture. One lap around Fiesta and you’ll see that this is true – swirling skirts, sombreros and boots and gorgeous feathered headdresses exhibited by the multiple folklórico and Aztec dance groups are proof. Although it’s been a few years since we’ve been able to perform at Fiesta, Teresa invited us back and also stepped up by offering to let us run one of the festival’s beer stands as a fundraiser for Milwaukee Ballet II.
This week we welcomed dancers from Jalisco, Mexico to come and take maintenance class at the studio and to use rehearsal space for their own performances at Fiesta. Under the direction of Dalirys Valladares (someone who actually danced with Milwaukee Ballet School instructor Monica Isla – small world!), eight dancers have come to Milwaukee to perform along with Ballet Folklórico Poctly Yancuic and Mariachi Vive México in a cultural and dancing espectaculo! Michelle Monreal Hernández, Victoria Karina Iglesias, Maria Eugenia Rosas, Roxana Ruiz Vega, Argenis Montalvo Cerpa, Emmanuel Ramírez Hernandez, Ignacio Pérez Lopez and Javier Zavala are a lovely group of dancers and such nice people. Arriving at the studio on Monday morning (despite getting to their hotel at four o’clock in the morning!), the dancers have had a chance to mingle with our dancers here at the studio and over dinner this week. It’s exciting to see Studio A full of dancers – from school kids and Company members and to our nuevo amigos.
We will be presenting a program that promises to be divertido (fun) and entertaining. A Nutcracker favorite (Arabian), selections from Don Quixote, an emotional piece from our most recent Graduation Celebration (Over the Edge and One More Step danced by Erica Alvarado and Barry Molina, choreographed by Company member Isaac Sharratt) and new choreography by Petr Zahradnícek – a piece for Milwaukee Ballet School student Monica Peppel called Limitless and Free and a group piece for the ensemble called We Are Leaving, with music by DeVotchKa!
So vengan Uds. to see us dance, to see the Compañia de Jalisco dance and, if you’re of age, buy a cerveza and support the Nancy Einhorn Milwaukee Ballet II Program. What better way to celebrate the summer, the Ballet and todo nuestro comunidad? And really, who doesn’t like a Fiesta!?
• Milwaukee Ballet will be performing at the Cultural Village on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 5:00 p.m.
• La Compañia Estatal de Danza Clásica y Neoclásica de Jalisco will be performing on Friday at the Miller Lite Oasis Stage at 7:15 p.m., on Saturday at the Omega/Harley-Davidson Stage at 6:30 p.m. and at the Cultural Village at 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday at the El Rey/Rosen Motors Stage at 4:00 p.m. and at the Cultural Village at 7:00 p.m.
• The Milwaukee Ballet Beer Stand is in front of the Cultural Village. Proceeds made from beer sales will go to the Milwaukee Ballet II Program.
¡Te veo en la Fiesta! (I’ll see you there!)
Director of Education