Dances with jaguars
Sacramento, CA 95816
A replica of a Mayan temple, drums, songs and dances based on traditional Mayan culture, and a story based on little-known historical fact makes Teatro Espejo’s newest production a winner.
Manuel José Pickett, who co-wrote the original script for Severed Roots with Sam Rios, directs this tale of the first Mexicans, fathered by a shipwrecked Spaniard on the Yucatán a decade before the arrival of the conquistador, Hernán Cortés (Alex Karavay).
Seaman Gonzalo Guerrero (Ike Torres) and Franciscan friar Gerónimo de Aguilar (John Dryden) survive out of their shipwrecked crew. When Cortés arrives, Aguilar tells the story in flashbacks of Guerrero’s rise from slave to warrior to husband of the Mayan king’s daughter (Camila Valim Serrano). Cortés hopes to enlist Guerrero’s help to conquer the Mayans and take their gold; the play is essentially moral conflict.
Incorporated into the story is a jaguar dance, as well as another dance based on what choreographer Andrea “YaYa” Porras calls “neomayan rhythms.” One of the big pluses of the production is the inclusion of dance, along with original music by director/playwright Pickett, Marisol Pickett, and Albert Ramirez Pickett. The costumes, designed by local legend Señora Angelbertha Cobb, a curator and teacher of Mayan and Aztec traditions, are fantastic. The Mayan royalty and priest are in vibrant colors, and the Spaniards’ costumes include breastplates, helmets and sabers.
A little hesitation in delivery by some of the actors—and the unfortunate echoes in the theater—made it hard to hear bits of dialogue, but this is still another interesting and entertaining piece from Teatro Espejo, a welcome addition to the ranks of Sacramento community theater.