The 9th Festival of Life and Death Traditions at Xcaret is one of the main cultural events in Riviera Maya, which takes place from October 29th to November 2nd of this year, and will welcome Michoacán as its guest State with the participation of 250 exhibitors showcasing music, dances, theater, cuisine, painting and crafts.
Leticia Aguerrebere Salido, Director of the event, stated that this is the largest delegation from a guest state ever to attend the Festival in any of its editions and believes it is a great opportunity for people who travel to Cancun and the Riviera Maya and people from all over Quintana Roo state to get to know the rich and varied cultural expressions from Michoacán revolving around the celebrations of the Day of the Dead, founded on the building blocks of the Purépecha civilization, one of the great cultures in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, who stood up against the nahuas, known as Aztecs, at some point. With Michoacán´s participation, we envisage the presentation of three out of the seven Mexican expressions declared Cultural Heritage for Humanity by the UNESCO: The celebration of the Day of the Dead, “Pirecua” music and the gastronomy from Michoacán State, whose Mexican dishes served as the sample for Mexican traditional cuisine to be declared part of the list of values, traditions and rituals to be preserved under the auspices of that United Nations organization.
In the Festival´s program which offers a great variety of events directed to children, young people and adults, there will be two keynote cultural events: “Entre tumbas, vivos y muertos” (Among tombs, the living and the dead) a play reading by top mexican actor Ignacio López Tarso and the concert ¿En qué quedamos pelona? (In reference to “Lady Death”), by Fernando de la Mora, one of the best known Mexican opera singers worldwide. A monumental traditional Day of the Dead altar from the Island of Janitzio will also be exhibited, decorated with candles, fruits and handmade chocolate, the typical Mexican Day of the Dead Bread as well as the favorite objects and food of the departed family member.
Michoacán´s music will also be present with the “Tata Vasco” orchestra, one of the unquestionable representatives of Purépecha music and the Quiroga region; “Tradition Never Dies” by “Bola Suriana”, an original proposal with different musical styles from Latin American and traditional melodies from Michoacán; and the “Los Caporales” harp ensemble from Santa Ana Amatlán, Buena Vista, representing the traditional music from Tierra Caliente.
The “Banda Real de Ichán”, a wind instrument band that has won several awards throughout Mexico, will also participate at the Festival, as well as “Pollomingus”, a young musical group that combines rock, funk and jazz in their creations; the “Ver Alma (Ahuirán)” orchestra presenting Purépecha music and, last but not least, “Eleven Town´s”, a group that mixes jazz, blues, punk, grunge, waltz, Balkan folk music, bossa nova, reggae and ska.
The Ensamble Michoacano theater group will present “Reunión de Almas” / Gathering of Souls, a stage show about the legends that make up the cultural identity of today´s Michoacán. The Festival will also offer the presentation of the Michoacán Folklore Ballet, a group of 32 artists including dancers and musicians who have toured throughout Mexico, South America and Europe presenting their plays and concerts from the mountain region, the lake region and from Tierra Caliente (the hotlands).
Neither the popular “Danza de los Viejitos” (Dance of the Old Men) from San Juan Nuevo could nor the “Danza del Pescado” (The Fish Dance), inherited from the Corpus Cristi celebrations in Janitzio Island, could be absent from the program, which also includes “Adiós Carlota” (Goodbye Carlota), a show presented by Gerardo Ballester with his hyper-realistic puppets.
The regional Yucatan theater will be represented in “El Velorio de Don Mech” (Mr. Mech´s wake) by Raúl Niño, which presents the story of a very Yucatecan death on a hammock giving the theme of death a particularly humorous twist. Yucatan state has strong roots of mayan culture and houses some of the largest mayan sites, like Chichén Itza.
Apolonio Mondragón will tell us the story of “La Leyenda de los Guerreros Mariposa Purépechas” (The Legend of the Purépecha Butterfly Warriors) and the “20 varos” theater group will present “Retrato de Familia” (Portrait of a Family).San Miguelito Restaurant, in charge of Chef Cynthia Martínez, will offer tastings and dinner with a menu of traditional dishes from Michoacán.
There will also be an exhibit of paintings from Mexican painter Jerónimo Mateo Madrigal, whose work has been exhibited at galleries in such famous company as Alfredo Zalce, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco.
Another exhibit will be “Autorretrato y la Muerte” (Self-portrait and Death) with 22 lithographs created and edited in the engraving workshop of the Ancient Jesuit College Cultural Center in Pátzcuaro. During the Festival, José Ángel Pahuamba Velázquez, an artist from Michoacán, will paint the mural “La Calavera”.
As in every year, the communities from the Mayan zone of Quintana Roo and Yucatan and Xcaret´s artistic community will play a prominent role in the Festival. The detailed program can be consulted in: