Mexico has had a rough autumn, to put it mildly. We are accustomed here in Xico to a continuous but for the most part fairly quiet drum beat of anxiety- and sadness-producing news, but so far we live our lives more or less peacefully in the midst of our beautiful, verdant neighborhood. But this fall, the disappearance of the 43 normalistas or students training to be teachers has touched everyone. The most detailed story I’ve seen in English of the disappearance and following events is here: https://stories.californiasunday.com/2015-01-04/mexico-the-disappeared-en . It is also available in Spanish. Just change the final en to sp.
A well-known contemporary Mexican author, Guadalupe Loaeza wrote a very moving piece in La Reforma about a surprising and dramatic demonstration of support at the National Theater for the fallen students. She started it in a way which will stir memories at least among some New York (and Boston) women:
As I do every year, last Sunday I took my grandchildren to see “The Nutcracker” at the National Theater. Once seated, I gave myself a task: to watch all the people filled with holiday cheer as they entered the theater to admire the last performance of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, the music of which is so familiar to us that even the most ignorant can recall a fragment. Most of the attendees were children and adolescents, bundled up and accompanied by their families. The atmosphere inside the enormous auditorium, with space for 10,000 people, was festive and Christmassy.
For my part, I was a deeply gratified grandmother surrounded by my six grandchildren, two of my sons, my daughter-in-law and Paloma Figueroa, the young professional dancer. With that same festive mindset, I watched young grandmothers wearing 100 percent wool coats with furs and carrying Coach or Marc Jacob purses. Many greeted and waved to each other from afar. The show was only minutes away from beginning.
Suddenly, the lights went down and at the stage’s illuminated center appeared a group of young people holding two banners, one with the hashtag #Yamecansé [Enough, I'm tired]** written on it and on the other could be read the words, “Stop impunity.” Daniel Castillo, in evening wear, spoke on behalf of his fellow members of the National Dance Company:
"Mexico is mourning the unsustainable and heartbreaking impunity that has become a daily story and that violates our citizenry."
You can (and should) read the rest of it here .
The tragedy has threaded its way through all classes here, all regions.
The National Theater where Señora Loaeza and her grandkids saw The Nutcracker shows the extravagant side of Mexico. Housed in the Palacio de las Bellas Artes, it is home to the Mexican national theater company and I think the Ballet Folklorico. It hosts all kinds of performances and performance groups.
Auditorium of the National Theater
The stage is hidden by the luminous curtain, the work of the Tiffany Glass Studios of Long Island, New York. Louis C. Tiffany oversaw its creation from the beginning and supervised twenty mosaic workers for fifteen months. The workers came to Mexico to steep themselves in the setting.The curtain is a mosaic weighing 27 tons with a surface of 2500 square feet. It apparently takes 7 seconds to open. I don't believe there is anything like it elsewhere in the world. I tried to insert an old black and white picture of the curtain in which you can see very clearly the scene of Popocateptl and Ixtaccihuatl, but I couldn't transfer it into a form acceptable to Typepad. These two volcanoes are, according to legend, the final resting place of two star-crossed lovers. You can read about the legend, the mosaic, and the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in a charming booklet written by someone in the Tiffany Studio about the time of the making of the curtain here.
The Palacio itself is a wedding cake of a building, art nouveau on the outside and art deco on the inside. Among the works of art you can find murals by Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros and others as well as an array of sculptures by European as well as Mexican sculptors. Indigenous imagery mixes with European.
Construction started just after the birth of the twentieth century by command of Porfirio Diaz who wanted opulent buildings for the 100th anniversary of Mexican independence. He laid the first stone in 1904. The Palacio was supposed to be ready by 1910 in time for the celebration of Mexico's independence, but not just geological problems with the subsurface, its history did as well. 1910 marked the start of the Mexican Revolution. The building was not completed until 1934 when the Mexican architect Federico Mariscal took over supervising its construction.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has extensive online resources. I was amazed and really excited to find out about them. Just start with the link to the Tiffany Studio booklet and go grom there..
Well, I took a detour. Not really. It circles back to Guadalupe Loaeza and her grandchildren and the tribute to the 43 normalistas and beyond.
And as if in sympathy with the sorrows of the country, Popocatepetl has roused himself from sleep.