DANCE REVIEW : Danza Floricanto Celebrates in 20th-Anniversary Concert

In the introductions to most folk-dance numbers, politics rarely come up. Somehow, traditional music and dance are usually considered separate from issues of gender and race or social uprisings (witness the cheerful dances from Chiapas offered by so many companies, unaware of any irony).

But Danza Floricanto’s artistic director, Gema Sandoval, managed to suggest serious concerns with just the right touch between dances on Sunday afternoon at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State Los Angeles.

After a lively version of “Los Concheros,” she said that concheros-style dancing is becoming a symbol of solidarity at rallies against Proposition 187. And before the Jalisco suite, she noted that Mariachi Mexicapan was the first mariachi band to put women “up beside the men.”

As part of Danza Floricanto’s 20th-anniversary celebration, the program also included the premiere of “Huapangos,” set to Pablo Moncayo’s “Huapango.” Sandoval’s first work to symphonic music kept basic folklorico moves, but experimented with smaller groupings and uneven entrances and exits.


In some ways, the piece was reminiscent of Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo,” with its exuberant leaps, occasional flirting and simple sashaying on the way to a clandestine kiss. But the steps--often subtle, swinging and spare--sometimes seemed lost in the big washes of music. Then, in soft sections, the taped score almost disappeared, and all that could be heard was a clattering of bouncy footwork.

Still, it’s an interesting direction, much more promising than the underacted narrative of “La del Rebozo Blanco.” In this piece and occasionally in others, performers seemed to lose energy and control.