Using both folk and classical music and dance, Calpulli Mexican Dance Company’s Dia de los Muertos explores a love story that spans the boundary between the living and the departed. A loving couple falls victim to treachery and is separated, seemingly forever. The young woman enters Mictlán- the underworld of Aztec mythology- where the mesmerizing Catrina reigns as queen.
The original concept for "Dia de los Muertos" was a show by Calpulli premiered in 2004 at Queens Theatre in the Park named "Tiempo de Cempazuchitl/ Time of the Marigold." Then Artistic Director Noemy Hernandez created Calpulli's first story-based production of "Dia de los Muertos" in 2012 premiered at the Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University. The final production of story was premiered at Queens Theatre in 2016 under the Artistic Direction of Alberto Lopez Herrera, Dramaturg and co-story writer Roberto Lara, with Music Direction by George Saenz. Read the letter from the Artistic Director.
Our story begins in a quaint, busy plaza outside of Mexico City. The breadmaker Don Jose, in his attempt to have his daughter Lupita married to Maximiliano, the town’s arrogant millionaire, begins an uncomfortable though humorous conversation with him. Lupita and Raul, two young lovers and their town’s sweethearts, invite all to join in their merriment. Their courtship and games are interrupted when Don Jose announces Lupita’s engagement with Maximiliano. Upset, Lupita escapes with Raul until they are discovered by Maximiliano. Furious after being made a fool, Maximiliano initiates a duel with Raul of which he is the loser. Blinded by vengeance after his humiliation, Maximiliano sends a poisoned drink to Raul. The deadly drink ends up mistakenly in the hands of Lupita, ending her life without the chance to say goodbye to her loved one.
Flying on the arms of the Muxes, Lupita arrives in Mictlán, the world of the dead, where she is received by La Catrina and her entire, happy court. Lupita is in awe of the beauty of this place and almost forgets entirely about her past until, by accident, she remembers her love for Raul. La Catrina, surprised by seeing “sadness” for the first time in the world of the dead, gives Lupita an opportunity to say goodbye to her love.
Lupita, guided by La Catrina, returns to the world of the living for a final dance with her loved one before returning to Mictlán. La Catrina leaves with Lupita but not before showing Raul that one day he will meet his beloved once again in the world of the departed. The realization brings hope and joy to Raul’s heart as he decorates and cares for Lupita’s resting place while the townfolk continue to celebrate the return of their departed loved ones.
“The dance numbers keep coming — feet stamping, skirts swirling — as narrative turns are woven in with easy-to-follow clarity. The lines of female dead, crossing one another to the same accelerating music to which the Wilis cross, have the same effect as the original, heightened by richer colors...Too generous and innocent to be pretentious, with its subversion of gender norms wrapped up in its sincerity, “Dia de los Muertos” might expand your idea of what is traditional.”.
– Brian Seibert, New York Times
“What a wonderful show!...If you haven’t seen the amazing work of this company, you are missing out!”
“It cannot be emphasized enough how special this production is, providing an educational experience to those not fully aware of the depth and diversity of Mexican culture and dance.”
Alberto Lopez Herrera
Alberto Lopez Herrera