Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Big, Young Audience at "Breaking Piñatas" Last Night

Last night, we kicked off Tercera Página with "Breaking Piñatas"at Pierson Auditorium on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Over 200 people showed up, many of them high school and college students (or in that age range). The show was high energy, as usual--poetry from talented, young writers (including some first-timers from Alta Vista High School's Poetry Club), comedy from wonderful Chato Villalobos, and dance from El Grupo Folklorico Atotonilco.

Every year, El Grupo does something special for this program. Last year, the dancers in the Viejitos number, while still in their old-man costumes, broke into hip-hop dancing for a number. This year, they came out in jeans and T-shirts to give some lessons on the Guerrero variety of dance and how it developed, then later in the show appeared in full Veracruz costume to dance four numbers, including "La Bruja," which I adore with all the women in their white flowing dresses dancing with lit candles on top of their heads. Mil gracias to the incredible El Grupo, still going strong after 30 years of working with kids and the community and keeping traditions strong!

I was especially happy to see so many young people--and guys, no less--not only attending but fully engaging with the poetry and performers. Too often, audiences for poetry events are basically graying audiences. And a number of these young adults were making reservations for the big Sandra Cisneros events we have coming up in April as part of the series. Most of them stayed after to talk to the poets and performers. A most convivial evening!

Kudos to the Latino Writers Collective's own Jason Biggers, Ignacio Carvajal, and Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, who performed their dynamite poetry. Also, congratulations to the other poets and performers, as well, especially the Alta Vista Poetry Club. And as always, felicitaciones and abrazos to Chato Villalobos, whose brainchild this program is. Chato is dedicated at the deepest levels to finding ways to give youth in the community a culturally relevant outlet in the creative arts, and it was great for these young people who know him as a KCMO cop to see him reciting his poetry, doing stand-up comedy, and dancing with El Grupo. Bravo, Chato!

As promised, photos, courtesy of Stephen Holland-Wemps. Mil gracias, Steve!

From top to bottom:

Some of the ladies of El Grupo prepare to dance La Bruja.

Gustavo Adolfo Aybar and Ignacio Carvajal perform their strong, dramatic poetry.

Jason Biggers and Jessica Ayala read their intense poetry.

Chato and Maria Vasquez Boyd try to dance with El Grupo.

Angie Tinoco reads powerful poetry.

Some of the Alta Vista poets with some of the artwork at the back of the hall in the background.

The Alta Vista Poetry Club with their final group reading.

Mr. Kazar, faculty sponsor, and the Alta Vista Poetry Club.

Chato Villalobos, emcee and general creative genius.

Here I am giving the welcome.

Ben Furnish at book table while audience files in.

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