Magazine article Dance Magazine

Brava, Bravo: Mexico's Contemporary Dance Pioneer Sets a New College Standard

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Brava, Bravo: Mexico's Contemporary Dance Pioneer Sets a New College Standard

Article excerpt

Picture a peaceful 16th-century colonial town 160 miles from sprawling Mexico City: Queretaro--home of Maximilian, Austrian emperor defeated by Juarez, and site of the writing of Mexico's constitution. A graceful, still-working aqueduct, built by the Spaniards (finished in 1735), more than five miles long, 55 feet high, with 74 arches adds to the charm of the city's architecture. Now, adding to its history, is CENTRO--Centro Nacional de Danza Contemporanea (National Center of Contemporary Dance).

Just three years ago, Guillermina Bravo, recipient of the Grand National Prize for the Arts in 1979, and artistic director of Ballet Nacional de Mexico (BNM), made a risky move. She decided to relocate her company after twenty-four years in Mexico City to Queretaro to establish a college for contemporary dance. With the financial assistance of the governor of the state of Queretaro, National Institute of Fine Arts, and the National Council for Culture and Art, Bravo built CENTRO's large, immaculate, modern, skylighted, high-ceilinged studios. Hardwood floors gleam, wooden walls reflect a warm glow, and a small indoor garden provides an oasis for students.

In addition, housing for all of Bravo's dancers (who comprise the faculty) induced the group to share her vision away from home. "It was a question of our future," Bravo, an imposing figure, says. "We needed a place where we could provide scholarships and expand our teaching on the professional and nonprofessional levels; where there were no distractions; where students could concentrate in peaceful surroundings; where the com pany would be able to work without having to contend with traffic, pollution, noise, and the hugeness that Mexico City has become."

CENTRO's curriculum, for students ages fourteen through twenty, provides thorough professional training and academics and culminates in a B.A. degree in performing, teaching, choreography, or stage technique. (Mexico has one hundred twenty professional companies, six or seven of them large contemporary troupes.) Principal BNM dancer Orlando Scheker is the school director. Bravo is artistic director.

Nearby is a large local theater where the BNM company performs. "These dancers are my second generation," Bravo explains. …

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