Certain arts organizations serve as cultural ambassadors—charged not just with providing an entertaining, aesthetic and perhaps thought-provoking experience, but also with purveying the cultural history of a nation (or, more accurately, what the government of a nation chooses to present as its cultural history). Founded by Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City in 1952, now directed by her grandson, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico is one such institution, a brightly colored moving museum of Mexican heritage, staging large ensemble folk dances from across the country and ritual dances dating back to pre-Hispanic influence. The show is a bright, energetic spectacle: a thousand yards of brilliant fabric swirl in the Jarabe, the national dance recognizable to Americans for its charro costuming and mariachi accompaniment. Less familiar is La Danza del Venado, a high-leaping dramatization of a deer hunt performed by Yaqui men of northern Mexico. Contemporary nods to Mexican history include a dance honoring the women who fought in the Mexican Revolution—a rank of Soldaderas brandishing wooden rifles spin, march and pose defiantly with their weapons. Yet for the spinning skirts, spirited stomps, twirling handkerchiefs and spectacular headwear, the thing most striking about the show is how many historical contributions to Mexican culture share the bill: indigenous dances, dances of European colonizers, dances of revolutionaries. All are present and celebrated as part of Mexico’s cultural fabric. (Sharon Hoyer)
At the Auditorium Theatre, 50 East Congress, (312)341-2300. Saturday, September 26 at 7:30pm and Sunday, September 27 at 3pm. $40-$73.