By Erika Bawek
President and Dancer
The show "La Ruta del Norte - The Route North" had been in development since 2006, ever since our artistic director, Jose Vences, heard a piece of country music that caught his attention. The song inspired him to create a Country Western performance - the first for any Mexican folklorico dance troop - built around the theme of el norte - the north.
Using Country songs as the cornerstone for the production, we selected pieces from the Northern states of Mexico that share an explicit cultural relationship to the U.S and that have a distinct European influence that has shaped early U.S and Mexican folk music and dance.
The music that sprung out of regions such as Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua and Baja California, for example, are very similar to the music of the American southwest. These songs also share their love for story telling expressed through the stories and tales of the people, costumes and region they reflect.
Although not from the Northern regions, areas like Zacatecas and Durango also preserve their European ancestry and influence with fervor. In Zacatecas for example, the Virginia Reel - a Scottish folk dance and iconic American dance of the lat 20th century - is performed to a Country beat, showcasing the shared cultural heritage of two nations.
With la "La Ruta del Norte - The Route North" artistic director Jose Vences wanted share his gratitude and vision of the U.S - a place that has provided refuge to many Mexican people during times of political and economic turmoil.
This type of homage was not intended to be a political statement although it may be seen as such by some; by stepping outside of the folk genre, we told the story of many Mexicans and Mexican-Americansliving in the U.S and updated a genre that at times seems frozen in time.