CelebrationMusicSpecial EventsUpcoming Concerts

Learn the Mexican dances that inspire the music at our October Celebraciones! concert

By October 5, 2022 October 9th, 2022 No Comments

On October 28, you’re invited to hear the FSO perform two of the most beloved Mexican orchestral works of the twentieth century: Huapango by Jose Pablo Moncayo, and Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez. Each piece is based on a Mexican dance style that has been significant in the country’s history; we’ll tell you a little about the origins of each style…


Jose Pablo Moncayo’s Huapango has been called the “second national anthem of Mexico.” Do you like lively, cheerful party music? Then you’ll love huapango. The dancers, who traditionally perform on top of a wooden platform, use fast tapping movements (called zapateo) while the singers alternate improvised verses. Check out this trio of male dancers showing off their fancy footwork.

“El siqui-siri,” a classic huapango. Start video at 0:14.

Doesn’t that look fun?

During Mexico’s nation-building period in the 19th and early 20th centuries, regional dances like the huapango transformed into more stylized national versions. This is the huapango that national touring companies present today around the world to showcase Mexican culture (like this couple performing in Hungary):

A ballet folklorico couple dancing huapango to “La Bamba”. Start video at 0:18.

Mexican ballet choreographer Amalia Hernández made presentations like these world-famous in the 1950s and 1960s with her pioneering group, the Ballet Folklórico de México. Hernández loved native Mesoamerican cultures and highlighted them whenever possible through her dancing. You can see this in the next video of her group performing to Moncayo’s famous piece (look for the male dancers with the shakers and antlers starting around 4:05):

Zapateado section of Moncayo’s Huapango with the famous Ballet Folklórico de México of Amalia Hernandez. Start at 2:35.

You will NOT want to miss FSO’s electrifying performance of Moncayo’s classic Huapango with the Ballet Folklórico de Colores of Flagstaff on October 28! Click here for tickets: https://www.flagstaffsymphony.org/event/celebraciones-2/


Danzón No. 2 by Arturo Márquez is another Mexican orchestral classic not to be missed. It’s based on a dance from Cuba that entered Mexico via the port of Veracruz, where it took up residence and never left. The dance itself might remind you of the tango. It’s extremely formal, with set footwork on syncopated beats and long, elegant pauses when the couple stands and listens to an instrumental section (ladies, you simply must use a fan).

A couple demonstrates traditional danzón in Veracruz

If you’re feeling brave, give the danzón a try, paso a paso (step by step). This teacher in Mexico City can show you the basics:

Start video at 0:28.

You’ll fall in love with the dramatic flair of Márquez’s Danzón No. 2 when it’s performed by FSO.

Click for tickets: https://www.flagstaffsymphony.org/event/celebraciones-2/

Bonus: Zapateando in the metro (requires good balance)

Start video at 1:05.

Written by: Stephanie Stallings