Calderon Theater, Zacatecas, Mexico

It always makes me cringe when I see something like this.  The five little girls twirling on the stage, music playing in the background, tutu’s wrapped around their waists, all performing the same dance, but each to a slightly different beat in their heads.  The surreptitious side glances, when they get lost, to the other dancers to find where their limbs are supposed to be.

I cringe and watch and try to realize that not everyone has the mortal fear of falling flat on their face in front of a crowd of people.

This evening I had happened into the theater, with the helpful pull of Susan, and once inside was in awe.  It was not the performers that interested me, it was the theater, because the theater is gorgeous.  I sat back and looked at the circular painting on the ceiling just off to my left, at the thick red curtains pulled up from the stage, and at the people sitting on the second and third floor balconys looking down on the stage.

This show was obviously not professional, and it was strange to have an obviously amateur show in such a luxurious surrounding.  But I found out later why they were here, because the Autonomous University of Zacatecas owns the theater, so it is used by all the local schools.

Because that is exactly what it felt like, a high school show.  To continue the theme, the next performers were slightly older and slightly better, as was each successive act.

It was an informal affair, the house lights were quietly lit, with just enough light for the watchers to wander in and out while the show continued.  The attendees were mostly families, probably come to see their children perform on stage, with the occasional parent walking down to the front to take pictures of their child on stage.

I returned to the theater a few days later, with my camera, to document, what I feel, a theater is supposed to look like.

[Please click on the panorama photograph below to see its full size]

The theater was named after politician, poet and playwright Fernando Calderon, and was first built in 1834, but burnt down in 1889.

In my book on Zacatecas it stated that it only took a year to rebuild after the fire, the reason the book gave for this amazingly rapid event is the Zacatecas city motto: “Work Conquers All”.  To me it sounds like something out of 1984, or the book “Animal Farm” as Boxer the horse’s motto is “I will work harder” until he is worked to death.

Which leads me to think of the mine just up the hill, and how the mine is called El Eden, after the legendary most beautiful and wonderful place in the world.  My book also said that the working conditions were so horrible in the mine, that at the height of its operation,  six people died each day working in it.

But speaking of work, on the photography trip in the afternoon, I climbed up the stairs to the upper balconys and came across three young men polishing glasses.  They had a damp rag and a dry rag and polished the water spots away before setting them on the table for the evening function.

It was exactly what I used to do before the evening catering jobs, and it is always a beautiful reminder of no matter where you wander, the people are completely different, and exactly the same.

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