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Aztec heritage shared

The troupe ‘Danza Azteca Xochipilli,’ a family of four who travels together, shows its Mexican culture at the Community Arts Festival.

October 01, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

The feathers on Adolfo Arteaga’s toucan-inspired headdress whirled and swirled as he bounded across the outdoor Plaza Stage at the second annual Community Arts Festival put on by the Orange County Performing Artscenter Sunday.

Arteaga, along with his wife, Eva, and daughters Tonanzin, 17, and Huitzi, 14, shared their Aztec heritage with the crowds swarming the center’s grounds that day at a free event aimed at bringing the community into the arts.

Tonanzin and Huitzi are home-schooled and love it because it gives them more time to travel with the family performance troupe “Danza Azteca Xochipilli.” Arteaga used the show as a means of instilling his culture from his native country of Mexico to his family while at the same time sharing it with others.

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“We just love it because it makes our family closer, and it’s fun to be with each other 24/7,” Tonanzin said, adding it has given them the opportunity to travel all over the place, including Sacramento, Mexico City and Huitzi’s favorite, Big Bear, where once during a performance the girls saw a snowfall for the first time.

“I love to teach them our culture,” Tonanzin said.

During the act, Arteaga would introduce each of the ancient Aztec instruments, including a whistle that makes high-pitched bird calls.

After the Arteaga’s energetic act, the one-man-band style performers of Street Beat, a STOMP-inspired percussion group, brought a more urban feel to the event, which didn’t stop with one stage in the plaza.

Boasting at six performance areas and many more hands-on work stations, the event truly put its money where its mouth is, bringing the average community member in the doors of the center.

Inside the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall visitors learned about the string quintet, brass instruments and the Opera Pacific. In the center’s other venues, kids learned about different forms and styles of dance, and even got to participate in a few theater workshops.

Outside, families could grab a bite to eat, practice some hands-on crafts with the Orange County Museum staff, watch a puppet show, or pick up a few instruments and learn about the violin, drums and clarinet — or maybe even play a few notes.

“It really helps them to see how different instruments work and have a good understanding of the different families in an orchestra,” said Larried Langer a member of the Pacific Symphony of Orange County’s Town and Country Committee in Tustin. “It’s great exposure for the kids.”


KELLY STRODL may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at kelly.strodl@latimes.com.

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