Those who honored in May what they'd heard was Mexico's independence day can do it again this week. They'll be a lot closer to having the date right this time. Although Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Mexican Independence Day in the United States, September 16 is the day Mexico officially celebrates its anniversary of independence from Spain. After being under Spanish rule, the French army newly conquered Mexico. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the defeat of the French by Mexican patriots on May 5, 1862.
With that said, local festivities for the real Mexican Independence Day include the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico's Revolution Images, a production featuring traditional dance from the Mexican states of Michoacan, Veracruz, Jalisco, Nayarit and Chihuahua, among others. The show consists of a series of routines adapted from old Mexican dances and festivals. Count on a sea of bright colors, swishing skirts and stomping feet. Since the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico's mission is to instill cultural pride and awareness in Hispanic youths while educating the general public about the Hispanic culture's contribution to the community, two of the three Revolution Images productions are matinees geared toward schoolchildren.
All the productions feature several scenes from the Mexican Revolution, despite the fact that Mexico's social revolution took place more than a century after the country's battle for national independence from Spain. This appears to have more to do with practicality than artistry. The Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico only puts on two productions a year, one in May and one in September, explains assistant artistic director Lisette Guerrero. The Mexican Revolution is generally honored in November. The production relies heavily on tense images from the Revolution; lots of marching and strong, brisk movements, Guerrero says.
All of September is recognized in Mexico as a time for celebrating national pride. Mexicans decorate streets all over the country with red, white and green ribbons and flags, as well as images of national heroes. Celebrations north of the border were overshadowed last year, however, by the September 11 terrorist attacks. Last year's ballet folklorico production was canceled as a result of the tragedy.
The current state of the world instills a new significance in Dallas' ballet folklorico, executive director Bret Ruiz says. "The tumultuous world events of the past year have shown us more than ever that we need art to heal the wounds and divisions that exist in this country and abroad," he says. "It's just so important to have art to bring everyone together, from all races and groups."