By Leonardo Rosen
By the time you read this, el Club de Danzón “Mercerina” will have performed in the Muestra Nacional del Danzón de Querétaro 2013 on November16. We have decided to take a risk and perform something different from the other groups who come from all over Mexico to exhibit their skills.
With El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables con el Club de Danzón Mercerina
Sun, Nov 24, 1-3pm and 5-7pm
I believe that I was born part clown. For that reason, last year I felt an itch to invent a new genre, the danzón cómico (comic danzón). Maybe it existed before, but I’m not aware of it. There exists a genre called danzón acrobático (acrobatic danzón), so why not experiment with comic danzón?
My first attempt to inject comedy into the danzón was with my choreography for a piece called Hay Que Echar Manteca, in a clumsy translation, “You Have to Throw Lard.” Apparently, long ago in Cuba, the people were protesting the rationing of lard. So, in the montuno (the last section of the danzón), I had the men angrily yell ¡Manteca! and become “statues” with their arms raised and their fists clenched. The audience was completely surprised and applauded heartily.
We had a big success with this number at the national danzón events of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí, with the famous orchestras, Danzonera La Playa and the Danzonera de Acerina.
Now, I’ve taken this comedy thing much, much further. The great orchestra from Veracruz, the Danzonera Tres Generaciones, has a piece called La Ley Seca (“The Dry Law”). You smart ones have guessed that this has to do with the law in the US prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol during parts of the 1920s and 1930, or simply, Prohibition.
In our performance with the live accompaniment of Danzonera Tres Generaciones, we are breaking many rules of the danzón in my choreography. In the first section, we dance like Charlie Chaplin and we do the Charleston. In the second section, we do some elegant and elaborate steps to show that we really do know how to dance the danzón. Then, in the last section (montuno), it starts off normally, but the men sneak away from the women to a “speakeasy” to get drunk. The women don’t like this one little bit. They find the men, punish them, and drag them out of there, treating them like the grown-up
“naughty boys” that they are.
Yes, we are breaking rules. However, the one rule we absolutely obey is the cadencia (cadence), the basic rhythm of the danzón. This is a risk because there are purists who may be horrified at our “sacrilege,” However, we hope that the majority of our fellow danzoneros will agree with us that this dance that we love so much could use an infusion of humor now and then.
The next presentation of “El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables con el Club de Danzón Mercerina” in the Jardín Principal of San Miguel de Allende takes place on Sunday November 24, 1pm-3pm and 5pm-7pm. The only admission fee is your beautiful smile.
For information, please call 152-6385 (Educación y Cultura) or 154-5840 (Leonardo Rosen).
Dear public, you have made this your fiesta. ¡Como el danzón, no hay dos!