The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guelaguetza in Etla - Just one dance

The more times I experience and see the dances of the guelaguetza, the more I appreciate them.  To hear familiar music and see familiar steps and moves, well, it just gets better and better.  If you can believe it, I am always moved to tears when I see and hear the Flor de PiƱa dancers.  It is that powerful.  Each dance really deserves a post of its own, but I will go with one of my absolute favorites, along with everyone else, the Jarabe Mixteco.  Here are the dancers from Monday's performance in Etla.
 You can see the entire outfit is designed to flow, to swirl.  The skirt and ribbons are magical.
 It begins.
This dancer was wonderful, high flying.  Normally, the woman draws everyone's eyes, but this guy was great.
 Float like a butterfly
 You can see the beauty of all those ribbons and colors.
It's some sweet courting dance, with flirting and teasing, lots of give and take.
 Eventually, he reaches out to take the flower from her mouth.....
 And it is done.....
And that is just one dance.  There were close to twenty more!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Guelaguetza in Etla - The faces of dance

Yesterday, the final day of the 2015 guelaguetza celebrations, and once again, we were in nearby Etla for their version.  It was wonderful, with four different folkloric groups who presented lots of dances, some of which I had not seen before.  It was great.
This year they moved the stage and well, there was no place from which to shoot.  The press area, if they even had one, was behind all the action and there was no way to get in front of the stage.  So...... lots of shots from behind and lots of closeups as the dancers came up to make their entrances.  The light was brilliant, so when given lemons, here's the lemonade.  Just stunning.
Lots of guapos
And guapisimas.
Young musicians
And some old masters.
This young man was an incredible dancer.  I'll post some more shots of him high-steppin' shortly.
"Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my closeup.
Really, the title of this post ought to be "I've just seen a face" because look at these wonderful faces.  This gentleman was the Devil in the Dance of the Diablos.  I'll post him with his mask shortly.
Yes, I have some dance and action shots... well, really a lot to go through.  I'll put them up as they are ready, but for now, just look at the faces of these dancers.
All ages were represented.
As well as lots of different traditions and looks from the various regions around the state.
A classic beauty... of which there were many.
Dance shots coming up.....

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Globos! - Nazareno Etla

Look!  Up in the sky.... it's a... it's a ... it's a... what the heck is that?
It is one of the globos or paper balloons from the concurso or contest in nearby Nazareno Etla and Matadamas Soledad Etla.  This was the ninth annual edition.
There is so much happening in the last two weeks of July, it is crazy and hard to see everything.  However, this trip was so worth it.... and pretty crazy, as folks filled the clear blue skies with globos de papel de china.  Amazing, huh?
And so many people there,
Thousands and thousands..... food, music and lots of action.
So much fun.  Everyone cheered with every launch.
 There was an art to getting them off the ground.  First, fanning air with a hat to partially inflate it.
Holding it up when it is not quite light enough to fly is the tensest moment...then
Attaching this device which is the final heat source.  These are soaked with something flammable.
And then they fill it with a blast of hot air from a propane burner.
Lots of creative and inventive ideas.
Even flying cars....
Beautiful.... oops.  We have a problem.
Aguas!  Watch out!
Wow!  What a day!  Here's Noticias' story on the event.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Work of art


A factor in this is the lack of education available to the general population.... and that brings us to the teachers and seccion XXII and all that is happening today, all the protests, marches and blockades.
And then there is immigration, if you wonder why folks head north, although US-Mexico immigration is a net zero these days.  Here's the story from LAHT (emphasis added)
The poverty rate in Mexico increased from 45.5 percent in 2012 to 46.2 percent in 2014, representing 55.3 million people, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, known as Coneval, says in a new report.

At the same time, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 11.5 million to 11.4 million over a two-year period that saw Mexico’s population grow from 117.3 million to 119.9 million.

Coneval found that poverty increased in 13 of Mexico’s 31 states.

The highest poverty rates are found in the southern states of Chiapas, 76.2 percent; Oaxaca, 66.8 percent; and Guerrero, 65.2 percent; and in the central state of Puebla, 64.5 percent.

The study shows that 46.3 percent of women and 46 percent of men live in poverty. Among the indigenous population, traditionally the most disadvantaged segment of Mexican society, the proportion of poor people climbed to 73.2 percent in 2014.

Quarterly real household income decreased 3.5 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Coneval drew its conclusions based on data from the Socio-Economic Conditions Module in the National Survey of Household Income and Expenses, conducted between August and November 2014.

Last year the minimum wage in Mexico was $146.15 a month, one of the lowest in the Americas, according to a report from the U.N Development Program.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean pointed to Mexico as the only country in the region where someone working full-time at the minimum wage would have an income below the poverty line.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The setting - Guelaguetza - Reyes Etla

You can see what a beautiful setting this is for anything, weddings, masses, baptisms, funerals, confirmations, cheese fairs even movies (Nacho Libre was shot here) and dancing.  Yes, this is the dance floor for the guelaguetza in Reyes Etla.  This is how it looks normally.  I would love to see the dancing without the canopy, but I am sure sun and rain are good enough reasons to cover the area.
This is how it looked on Monday last.  Those are the offering to be thrown into the crowd after each dance.  Yes, there are pineapples and coconuts that get tossed.  Aguas!  Watch out!
Just the perfect setting and one that was enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guelaguetza in Reyes Etla

This is one of the best things I am lucky enough to see each year and this installment of the gulaguetza in nearby Reyes Etla was simply fantastic.
The feria de queso and quesillo is right next to the dancing and the setting is gorgeous.  And the dancers presented one gorgeous swirl of motion after another to try and capture.
There were between 500 and 1000 people there and the whole thing felt very intimate and joyful.
We had prime seats but shooting conditions were challenging.  The was a huge green canopy covering the area so it was shaded, sheltered and dark and there was a white tent in the background.
It made for interesting shots.  Maybe I should have used a flash the entire time, but the event was four and a half hours long, so good luck with that.  Still, the shots were there.  Not too difficult with models like this.
No matter what, it was a great time, so much fun.  People take such pride in these traditions and the folkloric dance group, Grupo Baalache, was from Reyes and they were excellent.  They danced their asses off.  Even danced with a turkey.  And that bird could really dance.
Over four hours I shot over a thousand shots, so it will take time to go through them.
I did mange to use the white background for some silhouettes.
More to do, but it will take time.  Meanwhile, what a wonderful time.  No place I'd rather be.