REVIEW: UMS 101 Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández

Going to Ballet Folklórico on Sunday, February 6th was one of the best impulsive decisions I have made this year so far. Tucked away in the third-floor balcony seat on the day of the performance, I didn’t realize that my neck is hurting so much from craning to get better until the show was finished. Awestruck by the musical inspiration that the orchestra provided and dazed by the swirling colorful skirts, I found myself registering for the follow-up seminar event, UMS 101: Ballet Folklórico, held at Cahoots on February 9th.

The event was led by Susan Quintanilla, the founder, and director of El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil. She gave a presentation to deepen the understanding about the performance; ranging from the diversity of dance depending on region, how the dance is a fusion of different cultures and demonstration of stage costumes used in the performance. Up close, the costumes were more colorful and detailed than what I expected when I was seeing the performance. Those layers of laces in skirts! The presentation was accompanied by a band from the same organization consisting of violins, trumpets, a guitarron, a vihuela, and a guitar. Every once in a while, the audience had the pleasure of hearing live music that was mentioned in the presentation. Perhaps the instrument that caught the audience’s attention the most was the guitarron-a gigantic guitar with a convex body that makes woody, deep sounds. It plays a similar role to drum and bass in a rock band setting, although it had the gorgeous and humorous sound that only a wooden string instrument could make.

The scholastic, appreciative atmosphere of the program changed 360 degrees when Ms. Quintanilla invited everyone to learn a few dance moves from the ballet. We learned four or five dance moves and danced under Ms. Quintanilla’s instruction as the band played along. I enjoyed myself highly, although I was glad that the conference room wasn’t surrounded by mirrors as God had not granted me the talent in dancing. The opportunity to dance to great live music was a rare one, so I was highly honored that I could fumble and skip to the gorgeous sound of the band. Even though the audience consisted of people of different ages, all the people seem to be enjoying themselves a lot as they skipped, turned, and explored dance moves. Later, the session ended with a gorgeous singalong lead by the band and free and open questions and answers.

The questions were usually focused on the magical experience that the majority of the audience had experienced in the performance. We learned the secret of how the dancers could change so quickly, that the band follows the dance rather than vice versa, which is very unique, and other backstage stories that only people who have experience of performing dance could have. I couldn’t resist the urge to ask whether the shoes that make the merry ‘clink’ sounds are heavy or not and got a very sincere reply from the performers themselves that it wasn’t heavy at all.

Of course, I became to love the performance even more after learning more about it. Our little dance experience, the awe of listening to the harmony of the band once again, the experience of liveliness, all of it was great but to summarize what I really loved about this special experience in one sentence: I loved that the performance in itself is a celebration of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The ballet included diverse traditional dances from different regions of Mexico. Moreover, the conversion is not limited to the inside of Mexican borders-we watched a German dance performance the band demonstrated a piece of Mexican dance music influenced by music from the video. I’m pretty sure that anyone from any cultural background would find something to love in ballet Folklórico. Next time, if the team hit the town again, please invest an afternoon on it- you’ll have the impulsion, like me, to drive to Flint, the location of the headquarter of the company, to see more of the colorful wonders.


*The Featured image is the promotion image of the dance company that ran the workshop, not the image of the event


REVIEW: David Zinn Workshop

Photo courtesy of Viral Forest

The Ann Arbor District Library hosted local artist and University of Michigan alum David Zinn for his workshop—Drawing from Your Imagination with David Zinn—on January 5th in order to share his artistic techniques with those who attended. Although Zinn is well-known for his chalk and charcoal works on city streets and buildings, this artist used the Thursday afternoon to delve into the creative thought process of his artwork.

The workshop took place in the library’s multi-purpose room, located in the basement. I arrived five minutes past one and found myself in a room bustling with locals both young and old, all enthusiastic to hear from the artist. After they found their seats and chatter hummed down to faint whispers, Zinn introduced himself to us through light jokes and references. His words were accompanied by a slideshow of his latest street art pieces, which were certainly entertaining to look at.

One of the works that Zinn featured in his slideshow. Photo courtesy of Demilked

Zinn’s introduction eventually transitioned to demonstrations of his creative thought process. The artist first explained to his audience how blank canvases were intimidating to him, as ideas for art were limitless and therefore overwhelming. Having a canvas with a mark, however, gave Zinn a starting point for his ideas, even if that canvas happened to be a sidewalk with a line of grass. Zinn then elaborated this point by having attendees engage in drawing exercises where everyone would make a scribble, swap papers with someone else, and see what they could draw from that scribble. After everyone saw the products of this exercise, Zinn facilitated another drawing exercise where one person would draw on a folded sheet of paper and another person would complete the drawing on the other side. By viewing art that was created from canvases with a mark, everyone, including me, had a better understanding of where Zinn was coming from.

One of the drawings made from the second exercise of the workshop. The top half was drawn by me, while the bottom half was drawn by another attendee

The workshop ended ten minutes after two, with applause from attendees. I was content with what I learned from the workshop, and am considering on attending future workshops by Zinn in the Ann Arbor District Library.
If you happened to miss out on this opportunity with a local artist, be sure to check the AADL website to see when the next David Zinn workshop will be!

PREVIEW: David Zinn Workshop

Image result for david zinn

A local to Ann Arbor and University of Michigan alum, David Zinn will be holding a workshop at the Ann Arbor District Library this Thursday, the 5th of January. Zinn has been making his mark on the city with artwork through  murals, business logos, posters, and cartoons, but he is well known for the chalk art he makes on the streets and sidewalks of Ann Arbor, Manhattan, and other locations. In recent years, Zinn has recieved global attention from outlets such as Facebook and the Huffington Post. This local artist is now sharing some of his artistic experience through the workshop, Drawing from Your Imagination with David Zinn, where he will be demonstrating illustration techniques with color pencils. Take the opportunity to meet and learn from David Zinn this week, one of Ann Arbor’s local artists!

When: Thursday, January 5th
Time: 1:00 -2:00PM
Location: Ann Arbor District Library, Multi-Purpose Room

Workshop is intended for kids grade six to adults, free admission.