heartbeat of mexico

Musco Center for the Arts expands its Fourth Annual ‘Heartbeat of Mexico’ Festival

From the brightest minds in the field of Mexican cultural studies to the brightest stars in the world of Latin entertainment, the Musco Center for the Art’s Fourth Annual Heartbeat of Mexico Festival will offer a greatly expanded cast and calendar on the Chapman University campus in Orange over Memorial Weekend, May 23-26, 2019.

In association with Chapman University’s Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum, Heartbeat of Mexico will include an afternoon of free Ballet Folklórico inside historic Memorial Hall, a free day-long family-friendly outdoor celebration with music, dance, crafts for kids and food, and three nights of music headliners: superstar duo Jesse & Joy on Thursday, May 23, the iconic Alicia Villarreal on Saturday, May 25, and Lupillo Rivera performing with Mariachi on Sunday, May 26.

The Festival follows weeks of lead-up activities. The “Big Ideas: Culture and Conversation Series,” a six-week lecture series that explores the depths of Mexican and Mexican-American culture, began April 11 and continues through May 21. The “Heartbeat of Mexico Creative Writers Youth Project” is a new creative writing program for high school students, launched through a collaboration of Musco Center and the Santa Ana Unified School District, that pairs a select number of students with Chapman University MFA candidates to develop work that will then be staged with the help of professional stage directors from The Wayward Artist Theatre Ensemble.

“This year Musco Center takes another huge step in its goal to produce one of the most significant Mexican-American Festivals in Southern California,” said Musco Center Executive Director Richard T. Bryant. “Our entertainment and educator lineup this year amplifies many of the vibrant, overlapping energies in Mexican culture today, blending the contemporary and traditional into something entirely new. These are artists at the very center of the Mexican and Mexican-American experience.”


For the first time, Heartbeat of Mexico will feature an indoor performance at Chapman University’s 1,000-seat Memorial Hall. This comes in response to overwhelming community interest in Ballet Folklórico groups in past years. Those events were held outside, however, and this year’s performances will be inside and take advantage of theatrical lighting and sound to create an exceptional experience.

The performers, selected through a “self-nominated curation process,” have been chosen to provide a balance between local and regional groups of all ages, as well as the traditions they represent in their songs, costumes, and dances.

Among the highlights of the Ballet Folklórico program will be Ballet Folklórico Estrellas de OSCA, the premier performance group from the International Dance Conservatory of the Orange County School of the Arts; Paso de Oro Dance Company de Alicia, the 24-year-old dance company directed by Alicia Mendibles and Alejandro Rey; and OC Music & Dance, a community music school that welcomes students regardless of ability to pay. OC Music & Dance will present a showcase of traditional folk dances to three songs representative of the music of the small Western Mexico state of Colima.


The free outdoor family celebration on Sunday will be held on the Bette & Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza and various stages, presenting Mariachi, Aztec dancing, a live painting demonstration and additional Folklórico groups. Among the groups are El Santo Golpe, Calle 4 Cumbia, Relampago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico, and the popular Felipe Orozco and his Mariachi Tierra Azteca.

Two stages will be used for music and dance performances, with Attallah Piazza used to create an area where artists gather to interact informally with audience members who can ask questions about the magnificent costumes and take photos with the dancers and other artists.

Also, in the Aitken Plaza will be crafts tables and food booths. In front of the library, in the Attallah Piazza, will be the Passport Game, sponsored by Consul of Mexico Mario Quevas Zamora, who runs the Santa Ana Consulate. Here, a station is set up for a majority of the states in Mexico, with full displays featuring facts and images about each state, developed by the Consulate. Children get a passport to carry to every station, where they learn about the cultures and economies and histories in order to get the passport stamped and move on to the next one.


Currently underway is “Big Ideas: Culture and Conversation Series” of free evening seminars by leading academics continuing right up to the main Festival weekend. It is organized by the Musco Center for the Arts in association with Chapman University’s Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum and the Consulate of Mexico in Santa Ana.

“It is not only a vital component of the Heartbeat of Mexico Festival,” Bryant said, “but an example of how Musco Center pursues its mission to foster rich, informed, community-led conversations with the many culturally specific communities with whom we wish to engage.”

This article was a courtesy release.