We don't have to wait for Día de los Muertos or Cinco de Mayo to hear mariachi music because alumni from MECA Houston's award-winning mariachi program – along with MECA's Ballet Folklórico – are bringing East End culture to Discovery Green as part of its Friday Night Sights! program.
We spoke with Armando Silva, executive director assistant and dance director for multicultural education and counseling through the arts, about the perfect pairing of the intensely hued dresses of the dancers against the equally vibrant backdrop of the spinning top art installation Los Trompos. The dancers will be wearing “the really colorful [dresses], full length, super bright, really bright, from the state of Jalisco. You’ll have several dances from that state, and other regions of Mexico, like Veracruz with the long white dresses, and Baja California, the northern regions of Mexico,” says Silva. It's also a tenth-anniversary celebration for Julio López, who has been directing the Ballet Folklórico department since 2015.
Silva says that almost every mariachi instructor in town has come up through the ranks in MECA's program, and it will be those graduates performing on March 18. He credits MECA's executive director and founder, Alice Valdez, for the success of this Old Sixth Ward arts organization.
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During the event, veteran mariachi singer Vanessa Alonzo will sing “Cielo Rojo” (“Red Sky”). “It's basically a love song, searching for that love that’s kind of been lost,” says Silva. “She is our most celebrated alumna.” The song is from Houston Grand Opera's first ever mariachi opera, To Cross the Face of the Moon/Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. (HGO's 2010 production served as the operatic debut for Alonzo.)
The program also includes a solo by classical guitarist and MECA instructor Binh Nguyen, who will perform “Danza Oriental” by Spanish composer Luis Maravilla.
7 to 8 p.m. March 18 at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information call 713-400-7336 or visit discoverygreen.com. Free.