Day 3 in Guatemala: Showtime!Posted: March 2, 2011
Eduardo certainly has a second career penning travel guides! Enjoy–
Day 3 –
Our first performance was at hand at last! The sunny day was promising and everyone at the festival was busy with multiple plans in case of rain. The outdoor stage had been refitted with new sections of flooring and the crew was ready for the dancers by the time we arrived.
This remarkable setting is underscored by a simple high wall and a small gate. When you first walk in it feels like you are walking into someone’s backyard but as you turn a corner you are greeted by a formidable view. A ruin… a huge 17th-century facade of a temple worn by past volcanic activity, fire charring, artifact poaching and age, surrounded by a large stage with side lighting, wings and foliage for decoration. Beautiful, yes, but also ironic. But it is this irony that make the site so amazing.
The Ermita de la Santa Cruz was built by Dominican monks in an area that was populated mostly by indigenous Indians, mestizos and mulattos which the monks were ministering. It was damaged in 1717 by earthquakes and was rebuilt with help by the indigenous people.
The temple itself acts as the backstage (very clever) with the buttress as the entrance to the theatrical cross over and holding/warm up area, while the naive was outfitted with temporary walls for dressing rooms with state-of-the-art Port-A-Potties. All very well done! In the back, the sanctuary acted as our hospitality area and the “chancel” as the Green Room. After a full exploration of the bell towers, rehearsal on the sun-drenched stage began. Due to the hot weather the company ran through all the necessary spacing and technical rehearsal need before returning to the hotel for a quick rest. Although the sun was warm, it was reported that it would be a chilly evening for dance in the open…
The performance started late, no surprise, we were in Latin America. Its not that we Latinos like to be late, we just like an on-going commentary on EVERYTHING we do. So as you walk to the theater you talk, gossip and get news, then you get to the theater and usually there are good concessions to sample, so you talk some more while sampling the delicacies you only get in Latin America. As it gets closer to performance time you start rearranging seating with friends and family but then you run into your best friend from high school who you haven’t seen in years! So you talk some more…. Anyway we are a gregarious people and of course we respect the performers but please note, it helps us when we cement all possible relationships at the theater in order to enjoy the performance as a unit. (The sentiments expressed here are not Ballet Hispanico’s. Anyone wanting to respond please contact the Cuban Artistic Director!)
The performance was beautiful, under the amazing lights of Josh Preston, our technical director, but unfortunately, for the dancers, it was COLD! So cold you could see the dancers’ breath! They were beautiful, valiant, and as always loved by the audience. We performed Club Havana by Pedro Ruiz, Tres Cantos by Talley Beatty and Batucada Fantastica by Vicente Nebrada. Although from another era for us, these works showed a new side of culture and dance to this audience who is accustomed to dance as classical ballet only. From the audience’s response, I could tell we had made an impact.