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‘El Grito’ Mexican Independence Day celebration kicks off Segerstrom Center’s Hispanic culture lineup

El Grito 2018
Chinelos dancing and the Dance of the Jaguars are performed at last year’s “El Grito” event at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. This year’s Mexican Independence Day celebration is set for Friday at the center’s Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.
(Courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts)

When Mario Cuevas-Zamora, the Mexican consul in Santa Ana, was working with the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa to plan the first “El Grito: A Celebration of Mexican Independence” last year, he asked Blanca Araceli Soto to be the host.

Soto — a veteran Mexican American actress and founder of Los Angeles’ Tierra Blanca Dance Company — was the voice the Emcee of the “Battle of the Bands” in the 2017 Pixar/Disney film “Coco.”

“Life imitates art in this interesting, unique way,” said Marytza Rubio, the Segerstrom Center’s director of community engagement, who coordinated this year’s event.

Soto returns this year to host “El Grito” at Segerstrom’s Julianne and George Argyros Plaza. The event, from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, will feature a free concert, the Maiz Cocina food truck and a specialty cocktail made for the occasion by the plaza’s George’s Cafe.

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El Grito
The 2018 debut of “El Grito: A Celebration of Mexican Independence” drew more than 500 people to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.
(Courtesy of Segerstrom Center for the Arts)

“El Grito” refers to El Grito de Dolores, “the cry” that Father Miguel Hidalgo delivered to his parish in Dolores on Sept. 16, 1810, urging the Mexican people to rise up against the Spanish colonial government.

“It really captures the energy of this event,” Rubio said. “‘El Grito’ is that moment of recognition of tradition and history.”

There will be traditional Mexican performances, such as Chinelos — a style of masked and costumed dancing originally developed in the Mexican state of Morelos as a mockery of upper-class Europeans — and the Danza de Tecuanes (Dance of the Jaguars), inspired by native and Catholic traditions.

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Relámpago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico (which has been in Santa Ana almost 45 years), Pilares de México and Anaheim’s Mariachi Infantil R.h.y.t.m.o. will showcase Orange County institutions that are keeping Mexican traditions alive by teaching them to the next generation.

There also will be performances by singers Ariana Martinez and David Mendoza.

The evening will end with a performance by ballet folklórico groups Orgullo Guerrerense and Nostalgía Calentana Guerrerense.

“We have such a strong Mexican community here in O.C.,” Rubio said. “You can come be with Mexican nationals and Americans with Mexican descent. Or you can not have any connection previously to Mexican culture, because you don’t need to understand Spanish to enjoy the music and dance.”

Lila Downs
Singer-songwriter Lila Downs will return to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Oct. 27 with a new show, “Día de Muertos: Al Chile.”
(Marcela Taboada)

“El Grito” kicks off a collection of Segerstrom programs bringing Hispanic culture to their audiences.

The 2019-20 Family Series begins Sept. 21-22 with musician Sonia De Los Santos performing children’s songs in Spanish and English. The series also will stage “Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure” on Nov. 9-10.

When Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lila Downs returns to Segerstrom on Oct. 27 with a new show, “Día de Muertos: Al Chile,” she will be joined onstage by the Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company from Los Angeles and Mariachi Femenil Flores Mexicanas, an all-female mariachi group from El Paso, Texas.

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Flamenco dancer Farruquito, from Spain, will perform his new show, “Farruquito Flamenco,” on Nov. 6.

As the winter holidays arrive, Segerstrom will bring back its annual Fiesta Navidad, featuring Mariachi Los Camperos, and welcome salsa and Latin jazz band Spanish Harlem Orchestra for the first time for “Salsa Navidad.”

Here’s the schedule:

“El Grito”
5-9 p.m. Friday
Julianne and George Argyros Plaza. Free admission.

Sonia De Los Santos
10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 21 and 1 and 3:30 p.m. Sept. 22
Samueli Theater. $20.

Lila Downs: “Día de Muertos: Al Chile”
7 p.m. Oct. 27
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $39.

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“Farruquito Flamenco”
8 p.m. Nov. 6
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $39.

“Sugar Skull! A Día de los Muertos Musical Adventure”
1 p.m. Nov. 9-10
Samueli Theater. $20.

Fiesta Navidad
8 p.m. Dec. 19
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $29.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra: “Salsa Navidad”
7 and 9 p.m. Dec. 21
Samueli Theater. Tickets start at $39.

For more information, visit scfta.org.

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