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"Arts Mexico" Performances at the Hop

A Son Jarocho festival: music from the Mexican Caribbean

Son Jarocho, a spirited form of acoustic string music and dance from the villages and small cities of Mexico's Veracruz, blends the three cultures that have merged to become today's Mexico: Spanish, African, and indigenous. An upcoming Hopkins Center double bill features Son de Madera, the legendary success story in the revitalized Son Jarocho movement and Los Cojolites, a group whose music was heard in the movie, Frida. With guitars, harps, percussion, and the percussive dance of the zapateados, the performances promise to be visually as well as musically exciting. The Son Jarocho Festival will take place Thursday, March 30 at 7 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.

Los Cojolites
Los Cojolites

The repertoire of Son de Madera features the sones (songs) of the fandango, the traditional musical fiesta of southern Veracruz.  As local musicians perform sones, people dance atop the tarima or wooden platform, creating an exciting and energetic celebration. The zapateado footwork provides a rhythmic complement to the instrumental and vocal accompaniment and is a defining characteristic of the tradition. 

Son deMadera
Son de Madera

Founded in 1992 and based in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Son de Madera has been heralded as one of the most innovative ensembles to delve into the rich Son Jarocho tradition.  Diario de Beleares calls the group "an expression of energy and unique dynamism."  Featuring virtuoso requinto work by Ramón Gutierrez and vocals by Laura Rebolloso Cuéllar, this will be the group's first New England performance.

Traditional Son Jarocho scoring—requintos, jaranas, dancing boards, and percussion instruments—is enriched by the incorporation of unique instruments. The cinco zapotero, an instrument with five pairs of strings played as a guitar and designed and crafted by bandleade Gutiérrez; the marimbol or marímbula, used long ago in Veracruz to accompany the rumbas de cajón; the harmonica, and a double-bass, combine to provide depth and serenity to the group's sound.  Son de Madera's performances have been featured on numerous television and radio programs in Mexico and the United States.  Their recordings have been used in film soundtracks, television documentaries, and theater.  The group has participated in joint projects with other musicians, such as the Irish music group The Cassidies and the Chicano group Quetzal.

Los Cojolites got its start seven years ago, in the refinery town of Cosoleacaque.  The group was formed out of workshops and research that sought to recover the history and culture of Son Jarocho. The group's name comes from the Spanish word for a kind of pheasant venerated as a god of the trees by the ancient Nahuatl-speaking people who lived in eastern and central Mexico.  The Cojolite Bird is known for the length of its song, a full uninterrupted five minutes.

The musicians of Los Cojolites, all between the ages of 12 and 20, have grown up with the tradition of Son Jarocho in their families for many generations.  According to one of the group's members, Ricardo Guillen, "The Son Jarocho has left a big mark on us all.  It fuels our dreams and our thoughts ... Son Jarocho has given us something to identify with, some deep roots to hold on to.  We are the heirs to a great spiritual and cultural treasure that we need to preserve and develop." 

Reserved seats are $26, 18 and under $14, Dartmouth students $5. Complete ticket information is available from the Hopkins Center Box Office, 646-2422 or online at

Limón Dance Company celebrates founder's heritage with new work

The Limón Dance Company, founded by modern dance pioneer José Limón, brings its vision and technique to the Hopkins Center on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1. Both performances will be in Moore Theater at 8 p.m. 

The Limon dance coompany
The Limón dance company will perform on March 31 and April 1.

To commemorate its 60th anniversary, the company commissioned Lar Lubovitch, one of Limón's most accomplished students and now one of America's most admired choreographers, to create a new work, Recordare (Remember).  The piece is inspired by the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday honoring the spirits of departed loved ones.  Dramatic and filled with eye-catching costumes, it mirrors Limón's life and work, with particular focus on the dances he created in the early 1950s.

The company will also perform two classic works, The Moor's Pavanne and Concerto Six Twenty-Two.  Cited by critics as Limón's masterpiece, The Moor's Pavanne captures the drama of Shakespeare's Othello through the courtly dance form of the pavanne.  According to the Washington Post it was, at one time, "one of the most frequently performed modern dances in the country."  The original cast was invited to perform at the White House during the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

Concerto Six-Twenty Two, staged for the first time by Lubovitch in 1986, is based on a Mozart concerto.

In addition to the dance performances, the Hopkins Center will present a screening of  Limón: A Life Beyond Words, on Thursday, March 30 at noon in the Faculty Lounge.

For more information, call Hop Outreach at 646-2010.

An advanced level dance master class with the Limón Dance Company will be offered on Saturday, April 1 at noon in the Straus Dance Studio, Berry Sports Center. Enrollment is limited to 20. To register, call the Hop Box Office at 646-2422.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08