The Austin Chronicle-


Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company: Celebrando
State Theater, June 24

"I grew up in a little barrio in New York City," says Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance Company artistic director and choreographer, Ana Maria Grizzaffi Maynard. "I call it a suburb on the outskirts of San Juan: Bronx, New York." Perhaps not the real Puerto Rico, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a community outside San Juan that acted so much as if it were San Juan or that could have so influenced the young woman as she grew up. Maynard was surrounded by the sights -- and more importantly the sounds and moves -- of her near-native Puerto Rico. "Music and dancing are a very big part of Puerto Rican life," she says. After moving to Austin, Maynard took to dancing in a folkloric dance company herself:Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklorico, which performs Mexican folkloric dance.

Her experience with the Ballet Folklorico was one of a "warm family" and this is what Maynard brings to her own new company, PRFD. The Celebrando is an annual event: a joyful presentation of some of the various dances to be found on the island of Puerto Rico, replete with West African, Indian, and Spanish influences. Among the suites of dance that Maynard has prepared for this year's event is a new "estampa" Plena Baseball, which takes the most popular sport of the island as its subject. "There's only so many times you can see the same folkloric style of dance,"explains Maynard, "so what I'm trying to do more and more as we mature is to convey to the audience something about our culture. So every time we have a big show like this, I put together a suite of dances that has a little theme going through it." The Plena Baseball involves recreating the sights and sounds of a day at the ballpark through dance, and Maynard is pleased that even her drummers are catching the (dance) fever.

For another of the suites, the Bailes de las Montañas, the dance shifts to the peasant coffee farmers of the mountain plantations. "The dancers are from the mountains. This would be the equivalent of our country music." Maynard has choreographed this suite, "as a wedding; we've recreated a wedding and the party: an outdoor, joyful kind of thing." And no PRFD presentation would be complete without the riches of the 19th-century aristocratic dance, complete with handcrafted, authentic costumes. Maynard tells of collaborating with a visiting Panamanian dressmaker to create costumes for this colorful, formal dance: "You can hire a seamstress," says Maynard, "but to hire someone with the right Hispanic flair" made all the difference.

Maynard is particularly pleased to introduce local audiences to guest artist Modesta Cepeda who will teach her company a dance that has been in his family for five generations. "I've lived in Austin for 10 years, but I'm guessing that this is actually the first time that someone of [Modesto Cepeda's] caliber and relevance in the Puerto Rican folklore world has come to Austin." Cepeda and members of his performing group, Cimiento de Puerto Rico, add some home-grown folkloric flair to an afternoon full of song, music, dance, and pageantry. -- Robi Polgar

ONE NIGHT ONLY! Sun, June 24, 2pm. State Theater, 719 Congress. $10 adults ($8 seniors & students with ID; $5 children 13 & under; 2 & under free.) 451-8122 or


PUERTO RICAN FOLKLORIC DANCE: CELEBRANDO 2001 (See page 79.) Sun, June 24, 2pm. State Theater, 719 Congress. $10 adults ($8 seniors/students with ID, $5 children 13 & under, 2 & under free). 469-SHOW.

Z-HELENE/RICK FINK Improvisational belly dancing and drumming in an artful atmosphere. Thu, June 21, 8pm. Cafe Mundi, 1704 E. Fifth. 458-1804.

ARARAT Beautiful bellydancing to accompany your Mideast feast. Friday and Saturday: Phara. Thursday and Sunday: special guest dancers. Thu-Sun, 8pm. Ararat: 111 E. North Loop. 419-1692.


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SUBMISSION INFORMATION:The deadline for the Fri, July 6 issue is Tue, June 26, 5 p.m. Include name of event, date, time, location, price, phone number(s), a description of the event, and any available photos or artwork. Include SASE for return of materials. Listings are printed on a space-available basis. Send listings to the attention of the appropriate writer (see roster below). Mail to The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin 78765, fax 458-6910, or e-mail:
Wayne Alan Brenner, theatre.
Robi Polgar, performance art, dance, classical.
J.C. Shakespeare, comedy.
Ric Williams,
Ben Willcott, visual arts.

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