June 2010, Volume 14, Number 3

Cultural Spotlight

Cultura del Lobo brings international artists to new audiences

Two weeks before the final concert of the Cultura del Lobo series, every ticket was sold. Attendees packed into the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road to hear 25-year-old jazz vocalist and bassist Esperanza Spalding’s multilingual performance.

Adding to the growing popularity of Spalding was one very high-profile fan: President Barack Obama.

"He apparently has been following [her music], and so she’s played the White House," said María Linares, program manager for the Department of Cultural Affairs. "That boosted her exposure, so when people heard she was coming, we sold out."

Packing the house

In addition to Spalding’s success, several Cultura del Lobo performances played to full or nearly full capacity. Running October to April, the series showcased five performances rich in cultural and artistic diversity. It opened with Mexican jazz singer Magos Herrera, who blends classic jazz with Latin American melodies and scatting.

In the fall, Cultura del Lobo welcomed South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma, whose work Beautiful Me drew from the influences of three master choreographers to explore the process of finding one’s voice.

In Diciembre, a politically charged, dark-humored comedy by Chilean writer and director Guillermo Calderón, audiences were transported to Santiago, Chile, on Christmas Eve 2014 in the midst of a siege by Peruvian forces. A young soldier returns home to be with his sisters for the day, leading to heated debate about whether or not he should return to the fight.

A study in paper

In the spring, choreographer and lead artist Yin Mei presented City of Paper, a multimedia dance/theatre work that explored the practical, sensual and transformative qualities of paper. The performance offered commentary on how life has changed in Louyang, Mei’s hometown in China, which is where paper was invented. Throughout childhood, Mei witnessed the different roles paper played — from being a source of enlightenment in the years immediately following its invention to becoming a political weapon during the Cultural Revolution.

While packed houses and energetic performances captivated the audience at large, for many MDC students the most exciting elements of the Cultura del Lobo series happened off stage; aside from presenting their works to the community, each performer also taught a master class for MDC students.

"[The master class] is an incredible experience for someone who is still in school," Linares said. "For us it isn’t just about the performance. The students are the most important thing."

— NM

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