Our big performance trip with the ISSSTE Cultural Danzón group this year was for our presentation at the Second National Guanajuato Danzón Festival. The director of the group, Maestro Rubén Rivera Mendoza, prepared choreography for the group set to the music "Hay Que Echar Manteca". Long before we arrived in Querétaro in January, the group had been learning and practicing this danzón. Our friends Agustín and Lupita sent us via email the script of steps so that we also began learning the dance before we left Schenectady. Once we began practicing with the group in January, we worked hard to master it. Maestro Rubén selected us to be among the 9 couples to perform the dance. So from then until our departure on Friday, February 25, for Guanajuato, we practiced diligently.
Many members of the class joined the 18 dancers to make the trip in a chartered bus, leaving at midday. After our arrival, we visited some of the Guanajuato sights we had seen on other occasions, and then enjoyed the opening performances of danzónes in the plaza in front of the famous landmark, "Alhondiga de Granaditas" where a major battle for Mexican independence took place. Later that evening, Lois and I enjoyed a superb performance by the Symphony Orchestra of the University of Guanajuato.
On Saturday morning, Lois and I were accompanied by our friends Agustín and Lupita for a delightful visit to the gardens and museum of the impressive Museo Casa San Gabriel de Barrera Exhacienda. Back at the hotel, we dressed and practiced a few more times, then proceeded to the historic "Teatro Juarez" for the festival performance. We were #13 on a program of 29 groups. Our performance went smoothly. We received many compliments on a beautifully designed and executed danzón.
We celebrated by eating in a local restaurant near the University. Then, after a brief rest, we dressed again and headed for the gala danzón ball at the Guanajuato Convention Center. We were among the early arrivals, about 8:50. By 11:00 the great hall was filled. The danzón orchestra played with only brief interruptions until 12:30. And then a second orchestra started! We lasted until 1:30am, when the bus brought us back to the Hotel Real de Minas for a much-needed night of sleep.