Ballet Folklorico de Mexico | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico 

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Almost 50 years after this Mexican company was formed, it's easy to snicker a little at its overproduced numbers--the easy-listening music, the confetti-filled finales, the glittery peasant blouses and identical white farmer outfits that make the dancers look like an army of glitzy ethnic warriors. But when founder Amalia Hernandez decided as a child in 1925 to become a dancer, she had a long and uncertain road ahead of her. Her wealthy rancher-politician father only reluctantly gave in to her wishes, and after he'd hired the best modern, Spanish, and ballet dancers in the world to instruct her in the private studio he'd built for the purpose, she decided she was most interested in the many indigenous folk dances of Mexico. This pioneer of ethnic dance died last fall at the age of 83, but her daughters are carrying on with the company and its traditions; despite its Ed Sullivan Show aesthetic, it still has a lot to offer. This time around the 75-member company, which has not performed here since 1997, presents the Chicago premiere of Sugar Harvest in Tamaulipas, celebrating the cultivation of sugar cane in a northern Mexican state, plus such favorites as Jalisco, which includes a Mexican hat dance; Sounds of Michoacan, Hernandez's first folkloric ballet; and Carnival in Tlaxcala, which blends popular musical forms like the waltz and the tango with older traditions. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-902-1500. Through October 14: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $23-$47.

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