The love story behind Mexico’s flower of the dead, “marigold”, is the central theme of the Day of the Dead show to be presented in New York. The flower’s name comes from the Nahuatl Cempohualxochitl. The show will feature skulls, Catrinas, and ghosts dancing to classical and contemporary music by Mexican and European authors.
The show will take place at the Brooklyn Art Haus from October 19 to November 1, the month in which the Day of the Dead is celebrated. This tradition is celebrated in several countries, but the Mexican one has crossed borders and taken root in popular culture in the United States.
The show opens with “Dance macabre”, the most popular piece by Camille Saint-Saenz (1835-1921), featuring ghost puppets and charro skulls with their elegant bows dancing to the rhythm of the theme, played on the piano by Llewellyn Sánchez-Wener.
The pianist, who was born and raised in California, has a Mexican mother and grew up with the tradition of the Day of the Dead, describing it as “a celebration with a lot of love, a lot of joy” of family unity, and “I want people to know how colorful it is.” With the audience in mind, the show features a mix of contemporary and classical music, including popular songs such as “Bésame mucho” by the Mexican Consuelo Velázquez (1916-2005), the Mexican Ballad by Emanuel Ponce (1882-1948), and Jarabe Tapatío by José de Jesús González Rubio.
The show also tells the story of Xochitl and Huetzlin, two young Aztecs who knew each other since they were children and swore to love each other beyond death. However, fate led them to Huetzlin having to go fight and he was mortally wounded, so Xochitl asked the sun god to unite her with her love. The sun turned her into a flower by touching her with one of its rays. Shortly after, a hummingbird arrived and perched in the center of the flower: it was Huetzlin. At that moment, the flower opened into 20 petals, birthing the flower of the dead and the enduring love story that lives as long as the cempasúchil exists.
Juanita Cárdenas, a dancer and an expert puppeteer, manages the puppets of the ghosts along with other dancers, important elements of the show along with the acrobat skulls. Tickets for the show will go on sale next week.