March 3 2010 12:00 AM

Ballet Folklorico comes to the Wharton Center

Folklorico.jpgAccording to Salvadore
Lopez Lopez, the grandson of Ballet Folklorico de Mexico founder Amalia
Hernandez, it was a trip through her homeland that inspired Hernandez to create
her company.

Lopez describes the
initial experience of his grandmother trekking across the regions of Mexico in
1952, visiting towns and villages and filming the sights and sounds, the colors
and movements, the ancient ritual dances, the historic traditions and music of
rural Mexico.

"She was a classically
trained ballet dancer and choreographer, and what she did was to record
everything she saw, all that she took in,” Lopez said, “then bring it back to
the dance studio and use what she'd filmed to create a more abstract stage
version for professionally trained dancers.”

Ballet Folklorico hit
it big as the equivalent of a national dance company of Mexico. The troupe
comes to the Wharton Center Thursday, March 4.

This year marks the
bicentennial celebration of Mexico's independence from Spain. Lopez brings
together 40 dancers, 16 musicians and a coterie of costumes in a display of
dance that is culturally representative of many eras in Mexican history.

"As a younger
man, I was myself one of the dancers, performing the rope dance, an elaborate
dance featuring lassos,” said Lopez.

A crowd favorite is
"La Danza del Vernado," or the deer dance, which recreates an ancient
early Native American ritual dance depicting the ritual of the hunter stalking
the deer.

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico

7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4

Cobb Great Hall, Wharton Center