The Amalia Hernandez’s Folkloric Ballet Company of Mexico presents their traditional show at the Palace of Fine Arts during all the month of April in Mexico City.
Founded back in 1952, Hernandez took her inspiration from traditional Mexican dances from Michoacán and started her own company as a choreographer and art director. Thus, Sones antiguos de Michoacán was born and it immediately was an enormous success.
Hernandez received the opportunity to bring a new choreography each week because she was discovered by television stations in Mexico. Because the costumes and the choreographies are very specific to Mexico’s history and traditions, the company received international praise. Hernandez’s most famous pieces include Los hijos del Sol, El cupito, Fiesta Veracruzana, Los Quetzales, La Danza del Venado y Navidad en Jalisco. Since 1959, The Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico presents Hernandez’s original choreography every Sunday.
Like most form of traditional and regional dances, all sociopolitical rules specific to Mexican culture apply to the dance pieces. This means that gender roles, specific to Michoacán, Veracruz, and most of the southern states of Mexico, have a great impact on the choreography. Just like Russian and European folkloric dances, there is a double standard to gender. Men have a masculine and physically challenging choreography, while women (always in dresses) must appear graceful and delicate. Unlike modern dance, these traditions show the symptoms of the old Mexico during the 1950’s and how men and women should dress and act in society to be accepted. Even though most dance companies worldwide that showcase folkloric pieces want to preserve traditional forms of dance, it unconsciously preserves sexist tendencies of ‘what is normal and natural’ for both men and women.
Furthermore, what message does this give to younger generations that watch any kind of folkloric ballet? Will these kids feel identified with old ways of dance? O will they search for something inclusive and radical? In conclusion, tradition is choice; whether you’ll follow it or reject it.