In honor of the annual observance of Black History Month, Mercado369 is presenting “Afro-Mexican Celebration: A Shared Cultural Journey” on Feb. 6 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center at 6 p.m. Headlined by world-renowned Afro-Mexican singer Alejandra Robles, the one-of-a-kind celebration will also include spoken word poetry curated by Big Thought, and ritualistic dances of Afro-Mexican culture choreographed by Cara Mia Theatre.
With the goal of increasing awareness of the historical and cultural contributions of the Afro-Mexican community, proceeds from the event will benefit After8toEducate. After8toEducate is a comprehensive initiative to support unsheltered Dallas ISD high school students and homeless youth in North Texas.
Curtis King, the founder, and president of The Black Academy of Arts & Letters (TBAAL) is the evening’s creative director. A multi-discipline arts institution, TBAAL’s mission is to raise awareness of artistic, cultural and aesthetic traditions within the framework of African, African-American and Caribbean arts and letters.
Television personality Ana Maria Vargas from KUVN-TV (Univision) will be the mistress of ceremonies. Vargas will guide the evening’s mission to have a conversation about unity and communities of color that are systematically overlooked.
“Until a recent trip to the Costa Chica region of southern Mexico, I wasn’t fully aware of the Afro-Mexican communities and their historical and cultural contributions to the Western Hemisphere,” said Jorge Baldor, founder of Mercado369. “These strong and talented people remind us all of the importance of shared culture and deserve recognition.”
Born in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, international dancer, and singer Alejandra Robles will headline “Afro-Mexican Celebration: A Shared Cultural Journey.” Robles draws inspiration from her Afro-Mexican heritage and represents the sounds of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Veracruz. Trained at the Paris Conservatory of Music, Robles has performed across the globe in countries including Spain, Denmark, and Canada.
Rarely performed ritualistic dances from black communities in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero will be accompanied by live music directed by world music phenom S-Ankh Rasa. Under the direction of Cara Mia Theatre, all of the dances are choreographed by local Mexican, Mexican-American, and African-American artists.
Spoken word performances by local youth will address subjects such as identity, heritage, and acceptance. Big Thought helped the students develop content to address cultural changes and raise awareness of the Afro-Mexican culture.
“Without cultural events like this, people would never know about the Afro-Mexican culture and the contributions of Afro-Mexican people,” said David Lozano, executive artistic director at Cara Mia Theatre. “Cultural events help us understand who we are as well as the cultural and historical backgrounds of others.”
Jessie Zarazaga, a Southern Methodist University professor, is designing sculpture to be hung in the symphony hall to reflect the presence of the unknown culture of Afro-Mexican communities.
Over 50 pieces of art from the Costa Chica region will be on display and available for purchase. In collaboration with local artist Manuel Beckles, stone sculptures from Africa will also be on display
“This is the first celebration of its kind in the United States or Mexico featuring the visual and performing arts from the Afro-Mexican communities of the Costa Chica region,” said Curtis King, president and founder of The Black Academy of Art & Letters. “This new, different, unique and needed experience will make the local community richer. We’re better when we have a stronger understanding of other cultures.”
Tickets to “Afro-Mexican Celebration: A Shared Cultural Journey” are priced at $85, $135 and $220, respectively. Sponsorship opportunities are available to provide seats to students and youth groups at no cost. To purchase tickets and to learn more about sponsorship packages, please visit www.afromexican.com.