Regio (Royal) employs contemporary dance, storytelling, and mojigangas, larger than life Mexican puppets, to uncover the experience of Latinx immigrant workers in meat factories impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new production will be presented in different public parks and across Ithaca in May 2021. The performance will be a collaboration between me as choreographer/artistic director, two members of Lilypad Puppet Theatre, and three Latinx dancers from the community.
I am incorporating two mojigangas into the performance because of the puppets’ cultural relevance to the themes addressed in the performance. Mojigangas are large, 8 to 11 feet tall, figurines constructed from papier-mâché and cardboard. They are popular in Guanajuato, Mexico, a region with a high percentage of out-migration to the United States, and the applicant’s birth state. These puppets originated in Spain to represent nobles and royalty. They were introduced to the Americas during the colonization period. The mojigangas for this performance are going to represent workers from the factories. The design and garb will be fashioned after workers’ uniforms. The puppets will depict the factory workers as royalty, appropriating their original meaning of regality, and re-signifying it to working class immigrant.
The puppets will dance alongside three performers who will be dancing to accompanying narrations about the conditions of working in factories without the proper equipment. The stories emphasize stories about hardship, resilience, and hope. The dancers will express the physical labor that is required of these workers, as well as the precarity of their bodies in these factory plants and how they find inspiration for better conditions.
I was invited to show a work-in-progress version of this performance at the Festival of Latin American Contemporary Choreographers on November 11, 2020. I will use the feedback that I receive from this performance to develop it for its premier in Ithaca on May 21 and 23, 2021.