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In for a Visit: Just Plain Folklorico

September 30, 1996|JENNIFER FISHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

COSTA MESA — You can't really blame a ballet folklorico company for nestling comfortably into a respected theatricalized folk dance tradition, even if that form is evolving reluctantly or not at all. But you can hope that somebody starts tinkering with the formula. Soon.

Meanwhile, there was the Ballet Folklorico "Quetzalli" de Veracruz at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Friday. For some in the audience, it was enough to partake of the smorgasbord of contagious Mexican tunes and various versions of regional dances. For others, the repetitions really started to wear.

In most ways, this very young-looking company is stuck in the groove of ballet folklorico tradition. They know how to do all the tilts and swirls and high-impact footwork, but they have to retrace their paths with the same steps so often, it all starts to blur together.

Nor did they have the experience to project particular personalities. One way of dealing with the repetition is to deploy familiar steps in nuanced ways, varying tempo or expression, setting a phrase on fire with personal force.

This kind of energy sometimes came from Enrique Sandoval Montero, a lanky, vibrant dancer who was not formally featured but popped out of various ensemble pieces. While those around him appeared mild-mannered, Montero looked like a colt ready for more ambitious races.

A constant barrage of cheerful whoops and whistles accompanied nearly every second of the "Quetzalli" troupe's program, a discourse often much livelier than the dancing bodies.

Better to deploy the vocal component strategically, matching moments when the dancing heats up--with the resilient footwork of the dances from Michoacan, or the visually impressive skirt manipulations in the Nayarit suite.

Taped music accompanied the "Nuevo Leon" dances, which included the polka and schottisch. These were choreographically more interesting than many suites but somewhat ragged around the edges--both the costumes and the technique.

Elsewhere, four musicians at the back of the stage played and sang, sounding most impressive with harmonies before the dance suites from the Huasteca and Sotavento regions of Veracruz.

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