Merry-Achi Christmas Concert Returns to Chicago

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsThe Mariachi Institute of Chicago presents its third annual and only holiday mariachi concert in Chicago and the Midwest, “Merry-Achi Christmas Concert”. Celebrate Mexico’s authentic and vibrant sounds of traditional music in Christmas fashion on Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m. held at the majestic Copernicus Center with headliner Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar accompanied by the Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles. This week, Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles artistic director Kareli Montoya shared her excitement over this weekend’s performance.

Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper: You have traveled across the country sharing the artistic talents of Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar and Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles. This year, the Mariachi Institute of Chicago will present its third annual mariachi concert featuring Mariachi Garibaldi and Ballet Folklórico. What excites you about developing the show?

Kareli Montoya: The most exciting thing about developing a show is being given the chance to make the audience feel a broad range of emotions and knowing that the possibilities are endless! It’s amazing to see an idea come to life on stage. When creating this holiday program, I aimed to transport the entire audience to the most meaningful holiday and family moments of their lives.

Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles showcases the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Mexico. Talk to me about the importance of preserving and honoring one’s culture?

As a first generation Mexican-American woman, I feel extremely fortunate and honored to have been given the tools to celebrate my Mexican culture through music and dance. Folklórico has given me a sense of identity and there’s nothing more beautiful than being able to give that experience to my dancers and students. I feel an obligation to preserve Mexican culture, but also show Mexicans and the world that we, as Mexican-Americans love the culture as much as they do and can perform their music and dances just as well. We have love, respect, and passion for Mexico and hope to transmit that to the entire audience on stage. Be proud of where your ancestors came from! Diversity is beauty.

You have collaborated with many talented artists from Lila Downs, Pepe Aguilar and even performed the Academy Award-winning song from Coco, “Remember Me,” at the 90th Annual Academy Awards. What collaboration has been the most memorable and what are you looking forward to accomplishing next year?

Performing at the 90th Academy Awards has been the most unforgettable experience of my career. It wasn’t easy. Knowing that I was going to be working with choreographer, Mandy Moore, and that we were going to have an audience of that magnitude added amazing pressure. My main concern was the Mexican audience. How were we going to do create a modern choreography that would make our gente proud? Luckily, Mandy and Disney Studios were very receptive to my input and the number turned out magical. I feel beyond blessed to have been a part of that historical moment.

Next year, my husband Jimmy Cuellar and I will be opening up a new facility in the City of Commerce, Ca. We will be combining both of our studios into one Academy of Performing Arts and will be offering Folklórico and Mariachi classes for children and adults of all ages and levels. We also have plans to record the first Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles & Mariachi Garibaldi musical album, after all, we are dancers who make music with our feet!

What can the audience expect at this year’s Merry-Achi concert?

They can expect a very different Christmas Mariachi and Folklórico concert. We will be doing dances and musical pieces that have never been done in our genre before. We are doing a mariachi renditions of Disney songs, The Waltz of the Flowers and much, much more.

As for advice, what would you tell young inspiring dancers who want to follow in your footsteps?

I want to tell young aspiring dancers that anything is possible if you work hard enough. Nothing in life comes easy, but it’s possible. I’m the eldest of 6 children, born to a single mother who taught me that hard work and dedication are key! If you want something in life, you have to fight for it and want it so badly that before you know it, it yours! Don’t be afraid!

Merry-Achi Christmas Concert 2018 general admission tickets are $40 to $75 and are available at Copernicus Center is at 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago IL 60630.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Comments are closed.