The Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Texas A&M International University celebrated “Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor,” showcasing its dance concert for two consecutive days on April 20 and 21, 2012. All songs performed in their repertoire were original Cri-Cri tunes. Cri Cri is a magical singing cricket who was created by Francisco Gabilondo Soler.
Soler started with the tale of this magical singing cricket at Mexico City. Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor (the singing cricket), lives to sing and diffuse messages of unity and teach children manners and goodness among each other. Cri-Cri is also accompanied by other magical creatures that come to life and sing along with him, such as El Ratón Vaquero (The Cowboy Mouse), La Muñeca Fea (The Ugly Doll), Los Tres Cochinitos (The Sleepy Little Pigs), along with other characters.
Department Chair for the Fine and Performing Arts, Bede Leyendecker, started this magical tradition 20 years ago. Leyendecker started putting songs together from the Cri-Cri collection shaping them into what is now a full Cri-Cri dance concert. Leyendecker stated, “I’ve taken selections that represent and could be choreographed to every genre of dance, [such as] Ballet, Modern, Tap, Jazz, Flamenco [and] Folklorico.”
Cri-Cri featured dancers with distinctive costumes that vividly portrayed the character they were trying to personify. The audience could appreciate costumes such as piñata heads, sequence jumpsuits, traditional Spanish costumes, cowboy-like clothes, Mexican traditional sombreros (hats) and other bright garments that grasped the audience’s attention. Spectators could appreciate dancers chase and leap across the floor while other audience members witnessed the energy of powerful high kicks. The strong sound of the zapateado (footwork) echoed across the stage and the theatre representing the Flamenco and Folklorico dance styles.
According to Leyendecker, in this dance concert, performers are not only taught different choreographies and styles of dance, but they must also learn theatrical aspects. Performers use facial expressions and specific body movements to bring their characters to life. An example of this type of dancing was appreciated throughout many of the presentations, such as “La Muñeca Fea.” This character was personified by TAMIU graduate student Griselda Dozal. The story of “La Muñeca Fea” is a tale of a lonely, ugly doll who was forgotten in a basement and who deteriorated with time.
This dance concert was performed by 120 TAMIU dance students with the special collaboration of dancers from the Young Dancers Program. The Bridge had the opportunity to converse with one of the child performers, Susana Samos, who was accompanied by her mother Cathy Cornelius. The young dancer expressed her excitement to be part of the dance concert. Samos had the role of one of the baby duck who was part of the choreography “La Patita.” She started dancing since she was two and has been part of the Young Dancers Program for four years. The young dancer shouted her excitement and told The Bridge why she thought she was chosen to dance in Cri-Cri. Samos stated, “I was called to dance Cri-Cri because I’m such a wonderful dancer… and I love to dance, and that’s why I [think] Ms. Bede said I could dance.”
The dance concert also took part in awarding the Blanche Flores Leyendecker scholarship, the recipient was TAMIU dance student Hector Manuel Perales. This scholarship offers the recipient a $1,000 award to recognize commitment to the dance program and advancement in the field of dance.
For more information on “Cri-Cri: El Grillito Cantor,” the audience can reach Bede Leyendecker at email@example.com
(You may contact Neguif Angeles at neguifangeles.tamiu.edu)