Who needs Disney when Mexico’s rich history is already full of vibrant and exciting stories to tell?
That’s the opinion of Aranza Zu López, director of the musical Quetzalcóatl, The Legend, a spectacle of dance, costumes and lights that she believes can compete with such Broadway giants as The Lion King.
“Mexico has no need to make anything up. We don’t need Disney stories. We have so many legends, stories and a wonderful past and present,” she said.
Her show has presented the history of Mexico — from Aztec creation myths to the arrival of the conquistadors — to fascinated audiences both at home and across the globe, telling the story in what López calls the universal language of dance.
The show has only one singer, Fabiola Jaramillo, who performs five songs in Náhuatl and Spanish. The production also includes the recital of a poem composed by Aztec poet, ruler, architect and warrior Nezahualcóyotl. Other than that, the story is told with music, lights and body language.
“It was controversial, of course, … because the concept is very different from what we know as musical theater. We’re accustomed to seeing Broadway shows with everything [told] through song and theater. Not here. Here everything is told through dance, with 50 dancers and no dialogue,” López said.
After opening in Poland, Quetzalcóatl, The Legend took the story of Mexico to other countries in Europe, as well as China, South Korea and Japan, before returning to the western hemisphere to tour Mexico and other countries in Latin America.
“The original intention was to tell both Mexico and the rest of the world that the country is not about violence, narcotrafficking [and] pollution, but history, legends, smells, colors — all the diversity and talent that we have,” she said.
She stressed the importance of relaying her show’s message to Mexicans as well as to foreigners.
“It is a Mexican show, with Mexican talent, so we aren’t neglecting domestic stages. … We have been to many cities, some with problems of violence, like Tampico [Tamaulipas]. They told us not to go there but we did because the message we bring is profound and touches lives,” she said.
López is now preparing to take the show to Las Vegas, Nevada, and is also putting together a new presentation focusing on one of the most famous women in Mexican history, Frida Kahlo.