Mexico City’s Palace of Fine Arts looks a lot older than it is. An oddly harmonious mixture of deco and nouveau, it didn’t open for performances until 1934 because of a revolution. Inside this palace are museums, art exhibitions, a theater with a Tiffany stage curtain, a large bar/restaurant for pre-show drinks, a bookstore, a gift shop selling street-vendor-type kitsch, a magnificent art deco marble staircase, and murals by famous artists. But how do tourists get to experience all of this? There is a way. Get tickets to Ballet Folklórico de Mexico.
Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and other major artists painted murals inside the Palacio de Bellas Artes on the upper floors. Outside atop the building’s grand dome, which looks like it was conceived by a 19th century architect way ahead of his time, is an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. Other flamboyant sculptures surround this bird. It was no surprise to me that this palace was among my Eyewitness Travel guide’s top ten Mexico City attractions. A seasonal venue for plays, opera, and concerts of all descriptions, it was offering only performances of the famous dance troupe while Ruth & I were there.
This troupe that keeps Mexican dance traditions alive, celebrates its 65th birthday this year. In 1952 choreographer Amalia Hernandez formed his own dance company to promote all forms of Mexican folk dancing. It became an international success with performances in Canada, Cuba, the United States, etc., and it’s still going strong. This month it is only performing in Mexico City and Acapulco. A nearly 3 hour show is on the Palace’s vast stage every Wednesday evening at 8:30 and twice on Sundays. Shows include dance solos, mariachi musicians, and colorfully dressed dancers in several numbers that include many familiar Mexican songs. Since 2009 Ballet Folklórico has put on a spectacular Christmas show. Ruth & I were truly wowed by both this entertaining, swirling extravaganza and the venue.