2 November 2018: The Oakland Ballet perform Luna Mexicana at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland California, USA. (Photo: John Hefti)

The Oakland Ballet’s, performance, Luna Mexicana was nothing less than an homage to Mexican culture and history. This last Friday night at the Paramount Theater, I witness a combination of multiple art forms come together to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos and Frida Kahlo’s life.

The show was divided into four performances and was presented to the audience in two acts. Each performance highlighted a different aspect of Mexican rich story. The night started with The Nahui Ehekatl and Co. Aztec dancers, performing a blessing ceremony. One of the dancers played shell music, which honored the four directions.

After their performance, The Ballet Folklorico Mexico Danza dancers took the stage. Their performance was a ranchero inspired piece. With the dancers in late 1800’s early 1900’s attire. Their dance led to the Luna Mexicana performed by the Oakland Ballet.

 

2 November 2018: The Oakland Ballet perform Luna Mexicana at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland California, USA. (Photo: John Hefti)

 

In Luna Mexicana, a young woman falls asleep at her family’s ofrenda. Her dreams bring her relatives and friends dancing back to life. The dance included eerie skeletons and a flying “deer dancer.” The woman is reminded that her ancestors are always with her and they too had regrets, fears, loves, joy and excitement. As she wakes, the curtains close.

After a tamale filled intermission break, the audience including myself took our seats to watch the pièce de résistance of the show; Viva La Vida, a performance depicting Frida Kahlo’s life.

Viva La Vida started off like all lives start off, jolly and bright. Dancers came on stage in yellow and white dresses, holding pineapples. The dance was upbeat and feminine. Then Viva La Vida showed us the many pages of Frida’s life. From her final exhibition to her family life, to her tremulous marriage, to her illness. Each performance was paired with artwork. The visuals, the dancing, the expressions on the dancers face not only told Frida’s story. But it told all our stories. That one’s life has multiple moving parts at any given time and that we can endure more than we believe.

Luna Mexicana is not just a celebration of Mexican culture and life, but of life itself.