‘Heartbeat of Mexico’ Festival returns to Musco Center

Courtesy of Musco Center for the Arts

From the brightest minds in the field of Mexican cultural studies to the brightest stars in the world of Latin entertainment, the Musco Center for the Art’s Fourth Annual Heartbeat of Mexico Festival will offer a greatly expanded cast and calendar on the Chapman University campus in Orange over Memorial Weekend, May 23-26, 2019.

In association with Chapman University’s Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum, Heartbeat of Mexico will include an afternoon of free Ballet Folklórico inside historic Memorial Hall, a free day-long family-friendly outdoor celebration with music, dance, crafts for kids and food, and three nights of music headliners: superstar duo Jesse & Joy on Thursday, May 23, the iconic Alicia Villarreal on Saturday, May 25, and Lupillo Rivera performing with Mariachi on Sunday, May 26.

The Festival follows weeks of lead-up activities. The “Big Ideas: Culture and Conversation Series,” a six-week lecture series that explores the depths of Mexican and Mexican-American culture, began April 11 and continues through May 21. The “Heartbeat of Mexico Creative Writers Youth Project” is a new creative writing program for high school students, launched through a collaboration of Musco Center and the Santa Ana Unified School District, that pairs a select number of students with Chapman University MFA candidates to develop work that will then be staged with the help of professional stage directors from The Wayward Artist Theatre Ensemble.

“This year Musco Center takes another huge step in its goal to produce one of the most significant Mexican-American Festivals in Southern California,” said Musco Center Executive Director Richard T. Bryant. “Our entertainment and educator lineup this year amplifies many of the vibrant, overlapping energies in Mexican culture today, blending the contemporary and traditional into something entirely new. These are artists at the very center of the Mexican and Mexican-American experience.”


For the first time, Heartbeat of Mexico will feature an indoor performance at Chapman University’s 1,000-seat Memorial Hall. This comes in response to overwhelming community interest in Ballet Folklórico groups in past years. Those events were held outside, however, and this year’s performances will be inside and take advantage of theatrical lighting and sound to create an exceptional experience. 

The performers, selected through a “self-nominated curation process,” have been chosen to provide a balance between local and regional groups of all ages, as well as the traditions they represent in their songs, costumes, and dances.

Among the highlights of the Ballet Folklórico program will be Ballet Folklórico Estrellas de OSCA, the premier performance group from the International Dance Conservatory of the Orange County School of the Arts; Paso de Oro Dance Company de Alicia, the 24-year-old dance company directed by Alicia Mendibles and Alejandro Rey; and OC Music & Dance, a community music school that welcomes students regardless of ability to pay. OC Music & Dance will present a showcase of traditional folk dances to three songs representative of the music of the small Western Mexico state of Colima.


The free outdoor family celebration on Sunday will be held on the Bette & Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza and various stages, presenting Mariachi, Aztec dancing, a live painting demonstration and additional Folklórico groups. Among the groups are El Santo Golpe, Calle 4 Cumbia, Relampago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico, and the popular Felipe Orozco and his Mariachi Tierra Azteca.

Two stages will be used for music and dance performances, with Attallah Piazza used to create an area where artists gather to interact informally with audience members who can ask questions about the magnificent costumes and take photos with the dancers and other artists.

Also, in the Aitken Plaza will be crafts tables and food booths. In front of the library, in the Attallah Piazza, will be the Passport Game, sponsored by Consul of Mexico Mario Quevas Zamora, who runs the Santa Ana Consulate. Here, a station is set up for a majority of the states in Mexico, with full displays featuring facts and images about each state, developed by the Consulate. Children get a passport to carry to every station, where they learn about the cultures and economies and histories in order to get the passport stamped and move on to the next one.


Currently underway is “Big Ideas: Culture and Conversation Series” of free evening seminars by leading academics continuing right up to the main Festival weekend. It is organized by the Musco Center for the Arts in association with Chapman University’s Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum and the Consulate of Mexico in Santa Ana.

“It is not only a vital component of the Heartbeat of Mexico Festival,” Bryant said, “but an example of how Musco Center pursues its mission to foster rich, informed, community-led conversations with the many culturally specific communities with whom we wish to engage.”


Thursday, May 23, 2019

7:30pm: Jesse & Joy | Musco Center for the Arts

Saturday, May 25, 2018

12pm: Free Ballet Folklórico Celebration | Chapman’s Memorial Hall

Performances are 30 minutes 

Ballet Folklórico Raices de Mexico O.C.
Folklor Mexicano
Ten-year-old Ballet Folklórico Raices de Mexico O.C. was founded to promote the rich customs and colorful traditions of folklórico dance as practiced in Mexico, from the Southern States to the northern border. With the authentic costumes of each region, the Mexican Folkloric dance group has performed at the Orange County Fair, Disney’s California Adventure, SOKA University and Orange Coast College.

Ballet Folklórico Mi Lindo Mexico
To provide a unique experience to a wide range of audiences while sharing their love of Mexican culture, Ballet Folklórico Mi Lindo Mexico blends traditional folklórico with modern and contemporary movement. To ensure each show captures the attention of everyone watching, regardless of culture and age, these dancers are taught to be strong, yet elegant, one-of-a-kind performers.

OC Music & Dance
Traditional Mexican Folk – Colima Showcase
Traditional folk dances of Colima, a small state in Western Mexico, will be performed by young students of OC Music & Dance, a nonprofit community music school providing education and resources for students regardless of their ability to pay. Beautifully costumed, the mixed-age troupe will present highly choreographed traditional dances to three songs representative of Colima’s music. 

Estrellas de OCSA
Ballet Folklórico Estrellas de OSCA
Ballet Folklórico las Estrellas is the premier performance group from the International Dance Conservatory of the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA). Through folk and traditional dance forms they share the vibrant and colorful history of Mexico with audiences across the region.

Neiya Arts y Conjunto Tenocelomeh
Conjunto Tenocelomeh y Neiya Arts
Son Jarocho of southern Veracruz is among the most dynamic variations of Son Mexicano. Emerging during the colonial period it drew from Spanish, African, and indigenous music and dance to create a unique Mexican folk music. On stage, the Neiya Arts y Conjunto Tenocelomeh dancers use their feet to add percussion accompaniment to the music. Audiences of all ages have been captivated by this music that reminds them of loved ones and earlier times in Mexico.

Paso de Oro Dance Company
Paso de Oro Dance Company de Alicia
Celebrating 24 years of performing throughout California, Ballet Folklórico Paso de Oro is a premier dance company under the direction of founder Alicia Mendibles and co-director Alejandro Rey. Its celebration of Mexican traditions through dance has long entertained culturally diverse communities. The group has performed for the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Sparks, at Disneyland, California Adventure, SOKA University, Olvera Street, Orange County Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, and on the morning show of Despierta America and Telemundo.7:30pm: Alicia Villarreal | Musco Center for the Arts

Sunday, May 26, 2018 

12-6pm: Free Outdoor Festival | Bette and Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza

Plaza Stage

El Sol Science and Arts Academy
El Sol Academy, a dual-immersion charter school, has grown to nearly 1,000 preschool through eighth grade students since it was founded in 2001 with just 110 students. At Heartbeat of Mexico, 30 students from its large youth Folklórico ensemble will perform traditional dances.

Felipe Orozco and his Mariachi Tierra Azteca
International recording artists Felipe Orozco and his Mariachi Tierra Azteca will perform traditional Mexican Mariachi music in English and Spanish. Orozco, who emigrated to the U.S. as a child from Jalisco, excelled as a teenager in both horsemanship and vocalizing before touring Europe as a member of the America Music Abroad Society. Today his distinctive fashion style and charismatic stage presence has made his banda an audience favorite.

Paso de Oro Dance Company
Paso de Oro Dance Company de Alicia
For more information see Saturday, 5pm entry.

Mariachi Los Santos
Mariachi Los Santos: Llego la Alegra!
Under director Oscar Garibay, Mariachi Los Santos continues its two-decade legacy of teaching the rich traditions of Mexico’s culture with authentic Mariachi entertainment. The group has performed for the governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila and at the Battle of the Mariachis in San Juan Capistrano, where it won two consecutive People’s Choice Awards. At Heartbeat of Mexico the group will perform music from Disney’s Coco, popular Mexican hits, and classic Mariachi music.

Relampago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico
Relampago del Cielo is a non-profit cultural arts organization formed in 1975 by students inspired by the music and movement taught by Rosie Peña at Santa Ana College. More than four decades later the group they founded continues to support the study and preservation of traditional Mexican performing arts from various regions through music, folklore, and dance. Now, inspired by the group’s public performances, new members of all ages and backgrounds join to further educate and inspire.

El Santo Golpe
El Santo Golpe, launched three years ago in Riverside, California by a group of close friends and family seeking to add their own original sound to the Afro-Latin music genre, mixes old and new styles to create unforgettable musical forms. Inspired by music from the many regions of Latin America, the group draws on their own artistic and musical experiences to enhance performances that combine sounds of Cumbia, Son Jarocho, Garifuna and African drum beats with poetry, folklórico and more.

Performers Court

Los Sanchez Mariachi Quartet
Los Sanchez Mariachi Quartet is a family quartet that performs traditional Mariachi music using voices, guitar, vihuela, harp, flute, trumpet, guitarron, and violin. All members sing and play multiple instruments, truly capturing the essence of traditional Mariachi music. Appealing across the age spectrum, the group plays songs that range from traditional Mariachi music to current popular songs like from the movie Coco, as well as songs performed in English that have been specifically arranged for Mariachi.

Ballet Folklórico El Tapatio de San Dieguito
Ballet Folklórico
Ballet Folklórico El Tapatio de San Dieguito is a five-year-old nonprofit program of the Encinitas Friends of the Arts Division. A part of the Ballet Folklórico El Tapatio ensemble, which was established in 2008, its mission is to promote the traditional dance and culture of Mexico. By sharing their passion for traditional dance in local festivals, parades and recently alongside world-renowned Mariachis at the San Diego Civic Center, its dancers build a devoted following in the county and beyond.

Grupo Folklórico Echale Porras
Grupo Folklórico Echale Porras, recently formed by UCI graduates Ericka Martinez and Andres Porras, focuses on teaching traditional folklórico to elementary school students. The co-directors’ mission is to share Hispanic culture and traditions through the art of dance. Their 40-member group of 3- to 11-year-olds is hosted at James Madison Elementary in Santa Ana under the MPNA Green Program. Their performances celebrate both the culture of Mexican Folklórico and the energy and excitement of children who are engaged in music.

Mariachi Juvenil Herencia Michoacana
Mariachi Juvenil Herencia Michoacana is a Mariachi youth group founded by Araceli Ceja in early 2017 with just six players, all from the Western Mexico state of Michoacan, ranging in age from 10 to 17. Over its first two years the membership nearly tripled to 16 musicians and dancers who were inspired by join them after hearing the music. The group performs traditional Mariachi songs at churches, charities, PTA meetings, and schools throughout Orange County. 

Calle 4 Cumbia
In both its music and lyrics, Calle 4 Cumbia celebrates the pride and resilience of the Mexican and Latino Communities. At their performances, audiences are invited to dance along to the upbeat music.

Attallah Piazza

Franky Castle Art Haus
In a live painting collaboration “between Art (eyes) & Music (ears),” Franky Castle will paint to a music playlist handpicked to allow the rhythms at the heart of the music “to provoke raw emotions that I transfer to a large canvas via hands, brushes and paint.” His live painting began in May 2015 at the Anaheim Art Crawl. Within a year he was listed among OC Weekly‘s Ten Favorite Orange County Artists for Artopia 2016. 

MEXIKA: Music and Dance of Ancient Mexico
The professional instrumental trio MEXIKA incorporates in their performances a virtual museum of instruments. To this it adds the poetry, philosophy and culture of the ancients with both historical fact and legend. Since 1998, MEXIKA have shared Mexican culture in live performance and by teaching core studies. Through education and entertainment, they ask students and audiences to reflect on their own roots, believing everyone is native to the earth and can make stronger connections to it through performing arts.

Latin Spice Dance Group
Latin Spice Dance Group performs and teaches Salsa dancing at various classes, workshops, and private rehearsals. Taught by Mike Figueroa Jr., the team of Liz Figueroa, Ricardo Jimenez, Alex Balbuena, Marco Hernandez, and Pete Pacheco share a passion for globally popular Salsa dancing. At Heartbeat of Mexico, in their own interpretations of LA Style Salsa, they will dance to the song “Donde Aprendiste” by Machito.

6pm: Lupillo Rivera with Mariachi | Musco Center for the ArtsHEARTBEAT OF MEXICO FESTIVAL

The Festival, which last year drew more than 7,500 people to the Musco Center and Aitken Arts Plaza at Chapman University, expands from two to three days in 2019, with superstar duo Jesse & Joy, the iconic Alicia Villarreal, and Lupillo Rivera performing with Mariachi. In addition to the six-week “Big Ideas: Culture and Conversation” series, free events include a new celebration of Ballet Folklórico on Saturday and a large-scale family-friendly community outdoor festival on Sunday. Heartbeat of Mexico is co-produced by Musco Center Senior Director David Leavenworth. 
What/When: “Heartbeat of Mexico” Festival – Thursday, May 23 at 7:30pm; Saturday, May 25 at Noon and 7:30pm; Sunday, May 26 at Noon and 7:30pmWhere: Musco Center for the Arts, 415 N. Glassell St., Orange, CA 92866Cost: Free; tickets for headlining performances start at $35 to $45Information: (844) 626-8726 or visit muscocenter.org/heartbeatofmexico

About Musco Center for the ArtsSince it opened on March 19, 2016, Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University has been hailed as “an ideal opera house, potentially the best in the West and maybe even something more” by the Los Angeles Times.
Designed by renowned architects Pfeiffer Partners, with acoustics by world-renowned Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics, Musco Center boasts an intimate seating chamber with 1,044 seats on three levels and a full-scale stagehouse capable of grand spectacle or lush symphonic sound with its unique orchestral shell in place. Musco Center serves as a dynamic focal point for campus life and the broader community, giving notice that world-class arts education and artistic achievement have found a new home in Southern California.
For more information about Musco Center and its upcoming events, and to purchase tickets online, visit www.muscocenter.org.

About Chapman University
Founded in 1861, Chapman University is rated fifth in the Best Regional Universities West rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The universities 10 schools and colleges enroll approximately 6,400 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students studying business; the performing arts; science and technology; education; communication; film and media arts; pharmacy; the health sciences; the humanities and social sciences; and law. Based in the city of Orange, California, Chapman University also includes the Rinker Health Sciences campus in Irvine. In 2020, the University will open its 11th college, the Fowler School of Engineering, in its newest facility, the Keck Center for Science and Engineering.

‘Heartbeat of Mexico’ Festival About Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum 
The Chapman Latinx Staff & Faculty Forum was developed in Fall 2015 to provide support to Latinx students, staff, and faculty by developing connections and building a bridge between students, parents, alumni, community organizations, and the Chapman community.


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