REEL MOTION: Film explores Mexican cultures

Sep 21, 2018

Welcome to Reel Motion, a series of blog posts that will examine the Northrop Film Series selections. 

In programming the film series, there is one simple goal: to connect the audience in some way to the world-class dance companies that appear on the Carlson Family Stage each season. Sometimes there is a one-to-one connection made by digging up an older piece from a choreographer's oeuvre that was, sometimes by chance, preserved on film.

A simpler link can be made by screening a story in the contrasting medium of film before our audience gets a chance to see a dance company present their interpretation of the same story. Other times, the connection between a film and what a company is presenting on stage is less overt. The most captivating connections come when thematic, emotional D.N.A. is shared between a work of film and a work of dance. Which brings me to the first film of the 2018-1019 dance film series: Hecho en México.

British director Duncan Bridgeman showcases the richness and diversity of Mexican cultures in this visually and aurally engrossing 2012 documentary. The imagination, passion, and soul of the Mexican people resonate in every frame. This film was brought to my attention via an interview with choreographer Michelle Manzanales, whose piece Con Brazos Abiertos will be performed live at Northrop by Ballet Hispanico on Thu, Oct 4. An excerpt from the song ¿Qué es ahora? is featured in the film and also plays though the opening of Manzanales’ dance piece.

As the film explores the very identity of Mexico during a turbulent and violent time in its recent history, it also inspired Manzanales to explore her own Mexican-American identity. She explains, “Most everyone in the U.S. is an immigrant, and there are these splintered cultural backgrounds everywhere. And so now, everyone is having this experience of figuring out, ‘Who am I?’” 

We invite you to make your own connections at this film screening before experiencing Ballet Hispanico's Latina Choreographers Program.

Shayna Houp is Northrop's Artist Services Manager and curates the Film Series each season.

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