100th birth anniversary of Amalia Hernández

A celebration of the legacy of the founder of the Folkloric Ballet of Mexico

Ilustration by Carreño

19/09/2017 12:00

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Alida Piñón




Amalia Hernández wanted to be a dancer since she was a little girl. Her father, Lamberto, a renowned politician and military career man, and her mother, a teacher, supported her decision and built her a studio where she could begin learning ballet. She became one of the most important figures in the dance scene of Mexico and founded the Folkloric Ballet of Mexico. Today is the 100th anniversary of her birth (September 19, 1917).

“It has been truly gratifying for me to see the feedback of the people, and above all, to see the importance of my mother's legacy,” said Viviana Basanta in an interview, “What we have done throughout the years hasn't been only to remember her, but to live her. In this sense, my mother keeps a powerful energy. She was a hard-working woman, worried about her country; she always kept learning, researching, and writing. She died 17 years ago and it makes me proud to know her work is still alive. The young people, the new generations, are becoming familiar with her. The passion my mother had for dance is still alive.”

The special show to celebrate her 100th anniversary took place last September 17 at the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes), yet the activities planned in her honor will continue throughout the year with shows in different cities of the country. Moreover, during the Ballet's gala presented at the Cervantine Festival, she will be awarded a posthumous Cervantine Medal.

In November, the third edition of a commemorative book and a documentary will also be released, as the collaboration work of the National Dance Research, Documentation and Information Center José Limón (CENIDI), the Roberto Hernández Ramírez Foundation, and Banamex Cultural Promotion. The material has a new section with little-known biographical facts and it gathers statements and stories of relatives and people close to Amalia in her professional and private life – all with never-seen-before photographs.

“We're diving in the files to see the origins and motivations of my mother's work. We're discovering the genetics of the Folkloric Ballet within the old drawers. I've found amazing things, like my mother's thoughts on the country. People know her as a choreographer, dancer, teacher, but not as a writer and in her writings she relfected on how Mexico sings and dances its history. She knew we were culture, traditions, legends, myths and reality. This is all the material I've been working on with the CENIDI, and the book will have an autobiography written by her,” said Vivana Basanta.

In 1934, Hernández enrolled in the National Dance School under the direction of Nellie Campobello. She specialized in Mexican art and had a keen interest on multidisciplinary creation. In 1948 she joined the Mexican Dance Academy as a teacher and coreographer and participated in the foundation of the National Ballet of Mexico. She founded the School of the Folkloric Ballet in Mexico and set one of the most representative national dance trends of the second half of the 20th century. She died on November 4, 2000.


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