artist spotlight – aztlan dance company

as austin continues to grow at a pace that makes my head spin, i am grateful that the general population of austin takes time and allows for celebration of the diverse cultures that call atx home. being in central texas, one of those cultures is mexican. having grown up here, i have adopted a lot of the mexican culture as my own. i love folk art, i love listening to people speaking spanish (please don’t ask me if i speak spanish, it’s embarrassing… i can barely ask “donde esta el bano?” i really need to learn. anyone out there willing to give me some lessons?). now, i am married to a mexican man and my love for the culture continues to grow as i continue to learn.

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a few months back i treated myself and a girlfriend to a performance put on by AZTLAN Dance Company, The Enchilada Western: Refried. it was beautiful. the story told thru the dances was just lovely; it was sad, scary, funny, political and perfectly entertaining. i came to know the company thru an old high school friend of mine, holli hulett. we are friends on the book of faces and from time to time, i would see her posting information on upcoming AZTLAN Dance Company performances. i finally accepted one of her invitations and am hooked.

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she was nice enough to let me sit down with her to talk about dancing with AZTLAN, all sorts of existential fun (a lot of the companies themes explore time travel, death and the after life), and the impact of the company on the community.

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recently, AZTLAN teamed up with spatx to create murals for the building. here holli provides inspiration for the artists.

for some background for you, i took this straight from the AZTLAN Dance Company website. it’s a great brief explanation of what aztlan is… “AZTLAN is the mythical homeland of our Native American forefathers. It is considered the extension of land that spans from Alaska along the pacific coast of U.S. through Colorado, Texas and into the valley of Mexico. The native American people of this land once shared language and numerous cultural beliefs.  The values that have existed through the ages are respected and shared as the heritage of our Native American forefathers. AZTLAN remains the symbol and icon of cultural identity for the native people of the US Southwest and Mexico.”

the dance company has been around for about 40yrs and was founded on the premise of teaching the culture to the surrounding community. because of the more narrow-minded era, the company was pushed to the east side. which eventually lead to their location today on e 7th street. in years past, the dance and costuming was kept traditional, but after the original founders’ son, Roén Salinas, took over in the 1990s, they have started “infusing outside of traditional methods and serious mind bending art forms & chicano radical into the choreography.”

each of the productions always play with the idea of the afterlife and play with the idea of time travel. 2012 (the sexto sol) was a fun time for the company. (remember, that was when the world was supposed it end?). using the mayan calendar, they produced Sexto Sol-Cubra Cruisers Guide to the Galaxy. “using the 6th sun created new space for us. it was a new infused, circular timing… which is fun because it throws some rules out. it becomes time bending and allows for creating the afterlife as an entity.”

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when i asked how they come up with these amazing, existential, mind-bending concepts, holli said “dreaming requires some tequila.” and i say,
“cheers to that!”

the company puts on a production twice a year. you can join the mailing list (here) to keep updated on the what’s, when’s and how’s to buy tickets. and/or find them on their facebook page (here) to keep up with what’s going on… you may learn something!

with love, as always,
faith

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