Image c/o Baile Folklórico Guadalupano
By Andrew Martinez Cabrera
On the night of October 27, a bustling scene unfolded in the Soda Center. The strumming of guitars and the occasional horn rung throughout the crowded room via large speakers. The only sounds louder than the music were voices, laughter, and the scurrying of feet as they tried to reach their seats. Spanish and English filled the air and mixed into a song of warmth as the audience enjoyed one another's company. At the front of the stage was a multi-stepped altar, representing heaven, earth, and the underworld – with many offrendas (offerings) to remember those who have passed, such as cempasúchil (flowers of the dead), photographs, colorful serape blankets, food and drinks, and many other trinkets.
This was the prelude to the special annual event presented by Saint Mary’s very own Baile Folklórico Guadalupano (BFG) in conjunction with SMC Dance Company: 2023’s Día De Los Muertos Dance Concert. Accompanying BFG this year were two other dance groups: Ballet Folklórico Costa de Oro from San Leandro & Grupo Folklórico Sueño Mío from Hayward.
Before the dancing began, Brother Michael S. Avila, F.S.C, introduced the event, reading a written speech in Spanish and then in English. Baile Folklórico Guadalupano was started by then-second-year SMC student Yadira Guerrero in 2012, in which Br. Avila served as the first advisor. He reminisced that he was touched by the fact that, “she was not only promoting the Latino culture [at Saint Mary’s but was also] recruiting dancers from all traditions,” something which still runs true in its current rendition.
As a Latino, I found not only myself immersed in my culture being celebrated and displayed by people who look and spoke like me, but also by those who come from different backgrounds – either the dancers who were a part of BFG or the students who came to watch and cheer on their friends. If the night was to be encapsulated by one word, it would be “celebration.” Throughout the course of the show, many people would shout – gritos – like mariachis would do, a familial sound that warmed my heart.
The concert was composed of different sections of dances, titled after different states from Mexico, presumably composed of different types of baile folklórico. It is hard to accurately describe the sights I saw because I would fail to do justice to the spectacle of it all – the marching of women carrying prop rifles, men brandishing machetes and incorporating into their dance, dancers demonstrating such fluidity with their movements, their faces glowing; enjoying the scenery, the company, the spirit. It was a non-judgemental, transcending sight. Everyone was there to have fun.
Having something like this at Saint Mary’s and having it be organized by students nonetheless is something that should be seen by all. It was a reminder of how much I love my identity. If you have not had the opportunity to witness any BFG events, do yourself the favor and check out any of their upcoming events, such as Feel Good Friday on Dec. 1 and BFG Night on Dec. 4. A recording of the event can be found on SMC Performing Arts’ Vimeo page.
Madison Sciba '24,