Sea and Air '97 in Review

El Quadro Nacional de Dansas Folkloricos de Honduras
(Photo by Roy Novelo)

by Dorian Nuñez and Lydia Chuc

Wednesday, August 20, Mexico Night
The spirited Grupo De Dansas Folklorico del Instituto Tecnologico de Quintana Roo, dressed in colourful and festive garb, performed spectacular cultural dances and entertained the audience with an energetic foot stomping show.

El Grupo De Dansas Folkloricos del Instituto Tecnologico de Quintana Roo was organized in 1995 by students, from the Instituto Technologico de Quintana Roo, Chetumal, who wanted to combine their love for dance with their studies.

On September 15, 1995 the group performed for the first time in Chetumal for the Patriotic Festivities of Mexico. They have since represented the state of Quintana Roo in different cultural events in Mexico and in Belize. They have performed in Belize City and San Ignacio for Belize's Independence Day celebrations. They have represented Mexico at the Festival Internacional de Cultura del Caribe where performers form Belize, Jamaica, Cuba, Costa Rica, Honduras, Dominican Republic and many more gathered to share their culture and dance.

The group's objective is to preserve and showcase Mexican culture on a national and international level. Coordinator of the dance group is Mr. Marrufo Buenfil and the director is Carlos Adolfo Cabrera Alcoser. Mr. Buenfil said that he was extremely pleased to be a part of the Sea and Air Festival and said that it was his first visit to San Pedro. "It is such a small island but its grandeur and loving people are tremendous," said Mr. Buenfil. "It is great that we can come together as sister countries through our culture and dance. Culture has no boundaries and music is what ties us together. Our music is influenced by the Caribbean, just as Mexico influences Belize and the Caribbean." Buenfil also said that they have incorporated Belizean music into their music and integrated the two styles of music into one. Through this medium, Mr. Buenfil would like to extend his gratitude to the authority of the Mexican Embassy in Belize and the people of Belize and San Pedro for their excellent hospitality and for inviting them to participate at the festival. "We are extremely happy and cannot express our joy in words. Thank you all and we hope to visit La Isla Bonita many more times in the future."

The evening's entertainment continued with José Gabriel - a Juan Gabriel impersonator - and his band. José was a favorite among the older folks who sang along with him and shouted out requests. Pedrini Y La Mafia performed after José Gabriel. Pedrini Y La Mafia is the sister band of Banda Taxco - the band originally scheduled for Mexico night. La Banda Taxco could not participate in this year's festival due to inevitable complications, nevertheless, the show did go on. Pedrini Y La Mafia provided great music for festival goers who danced the night away.

Thursday, August 21, Honduras Night
Sea and Air Festival special activities kicked off on Thursday, August 21, with Children's Day at Central Park.

The festival gates were bustling as Honduras' National Anthem was being played; signaling the commencement of Honduras Night. El Quadro Nacional de Dansas Folkloricos de Honduras illuminated the stage with their colorful costumes and superb dance routine. The group was formed in 1956 and in 1958 made its first international tour. The group consists of 22 members - only 12 members participated in the festival. The group has performed in the United States, Central American, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In 1992 the group traveled to Europe and performed in Spain.

"This is our first time in San Pedro, Belize and we are very impressed with its beauty," said Mr. Carlos Raul Valladares, director of the group. "It is so beautiful how all these countries can join together in the celebration of a common culture and folklore. I am seeing that the Festival is very well attended and it makes me very happy to see this kind of unity between the Mundo Maya countries."

Mr. Valladares also added that the people of San Pedro have been extremely kind and warm-hearted towards them and he hopes to return some day.

Los Gatos Bravos on Thursday
(Photo by Roy Novelo/Belicolor)
The crowd's excitement rose as Los Gatos Bravos took to the stage. The band, clad in red and black and equipped with an unmeasurable supply of energy, had the crowd dancing to their first selection. Gatos Bravos members invited people to dance with them on stage and conducted dance contests. Their fast-paced punta, merengue, cumbia and disco selections made Los Gatos Bravos one of the favorite bands at the festival.

Los Gatos Bravos was formed 25 years ago and was the first band to record "Punta" music in Honduras. The band started out very small and only performed at weddings, and private parties where they were requested. Their popularity grew and they found themselves performing at important events and being invited to other countries. Los Gatos Bravos performed in Belize City on September 21, 1981 for the first Belizean Independence Day celebrations. They plan 2 tours every year in United States and Canada.

Alfonso Flores, Director and Manager of the band, said that although this was their first trip to San Pedro, they had heard about La Isla Bonita and were happy to participate in the festival. "It feels so great to be here," said Mr. Flores. "Our band is so excited that they can come to such a lovely place to perform and share in the culture that our Mayan ancestors have given us." Los Gatos Bravos has 13 compact disc albums and 18 music videos of their most popular hits. Los Gatos Bravos were partially sponsored by Michael Hotchandani.

Friday, August 22, Guatemala Night
The Ballet Moderno y Folklorico de Guatemala presented a wonderful array of dances depicting the every day activities of the Guatemalan people, courtship, superstitious beliefs and the life of their Mayan ancestors. Guatemala night of course would not be complete without a few bangs. The crowd cheered loudly as the stage exploded with fire crackers and bright, noisy explosives the Guatemalan are so well known for.

El Ballet Moderno y Folklorico de Guatemala was created in 1964. Its function is to present Guatemalan culture through modern/contemporary and traditional dances. The Ballet represents Guatemala nationally and internationally and has performed in Europe, South, Central, and North America and the Caribbean. The group consists of 25 members; 12 dancers and 5 musicians represented Guatemala at the festival. Miss Lucia Armas, Director of the Ballet, explained why the festival was important to them. "The Sea and Air Festival is an excellent production which promotes performing artists and their culture. It is especially important because it is the celebration of an important aspect of life which binds all the neighboring countries of the Mundo Maya."

After the smoke cleared and the Ballet Moderno y Folklorico exited, Los Unicornios enveloped the stage. This large band of friends who gather to perform only on request and as a hobby, not as a profession, rendered a unique collection of songs for festival goers. Los Unicornios play flamenco and guitar music and were Sponsored by Guatemalan Embassador Señor Antonio Castellanos. Comparable to "Gypsy Kings" because of their wonderful style and unique talent they entertained with hits such as Bombolao and Volare. Delegates, locals and visitors gathered around the stage to exhibit their interpretation of the graceful flamenco dance.

Saturday, August 23, Belize Night
Belizeans from all over stormed San Pedro to be a part of Belize Night at the 6th Sea & Air Festival. The evening got off the an early start and despite a short power outage, performing stars shone bright.

Mistress of Ceremonies was the ever entertaining, Lauren Burgess. The Xaibe Dance group from Corozal, the first entertainers of the evening, displayed the vibrant culture of their Mayan ancestors and were followed by the Leomar Dancers of Belize who presented Creole and Garifuna cultural dances.

The San Pedro High School Band, did San Pedro proud, with eminently talented young people and great musical hits they had the energized crowd on their feet and dancing early in the evening. Santino's Messengers and Andy Palacio followed with a superb line of soca hits and original punta music. Santino's Messengers and Andy Palacio participated in the festival through the kind courtesy and sponsorship of the Belize Tourist Board.

The crowd loved los ilegales on Belize/Caribbean Night
(Photo by Belicolor/Roy Novelo)
A little after midnight Los Ilegales entered the festival grounds and were greeted by a crowd of screaming fans. "Iligales! Ilegales!" the crowd shouted, until the four illegals, in a puff of smoke and under a kaleidoscope of colored lights, invaded the stage. Ilegales performed for a little over an hour; their techno-merengue type selections had the crowd bobbing up and down. Screaming girls pushed closer to the stage hoping that one of the Illegals would touch their hand or blow a kiss at them. Miss Costa Maya International Carol Aquino, Miss Belize Gaylene Desiree Dawson and Miss El Salvador Angela Maria Rodriguez danced on stage with the four entertainers. Ilegales will surely be remembered for a long time here in Belize; with their flexing hips, hyperactive shenanigans and bare chests they made the 1997 Sea & Air Festival a success. Los Ilegales were partially sponsored by American Airlines. Santino's Messengers and Andy Palacio entertained the crowd until 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and brought Belize Night to an unforgettable closure.

And an additional report on Saturday night emailed by Dorian Nuñez who returned to school in Kansas on Sunday.

"Belize Night:

Vladimir, Rafael, Anthony and Jason "!LOS ILEGALES!" WOW! Saturday night/Belize night literally exploded with San Pedro's most attended event. The Festival grounds seemed to be overflowing with an approximation of about 4,000 people. The gates had to be closed for the grounds could not hold any more people.

Hundreds of people gathered at the festival grounds from all over the country as San Pedro Town and the International Sea and Air Festival hosted one of the hottest line-up of performers on Saturday, August 23. Lauren Burges from Belize City was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the night. First on stage were the Xaibe Cultural Dance Group and the Leomar Dance Group respectively. They performed traditional and typical Mayan and Creole dances, depicting two very significant cultures that make up Belize.

The New Combination Band was a definite hit, especially among the younger crowd who always follow the band wherever they perform. The audience enjoyed their variety of music but unfortunately, due to a tight schedule, they could only perform for half an hour. Santino's Messanger, along with Andy Palacio, also created quite a stir in the crowd as people got up to dance.

Tension and total excitement started to rise an hour before the main performance was to take place. The fans crowded in front of the stage area waiting impatiently - Los Ilegales were on their way to the Festival Grounds. They were picked up by boat at the Essene Way, where they stayed and transported to the grounds under tight security. By then hundreds of screaming people were ready. Boom!"La Fiesta" (also their opening song) had begun. The Ilegales put on one of the best performances ever seen by locals and tourists in the country. No one paid attention to the pushing and shoving and the tremendous heat that was felt. Total attention was on the four Santo Dominican boys who were the leading factor of the Festival's success. Reports even came from San Pablo that the screaming cheers of the contented ladies could be heard all the way from the grounds. The show took about an hour and a half and then the Ilegales had to leave. Vladimir, Anthony and Rafael arrived in San Pedro on Friday and were given a tour of the town on golf cart. On Saturday during the day Dorian Nuñez of The San Pedro Sun had the opportunity to accompany the three guys on a river tour to Altun Ha and a swim with the sharks and rays on the reef. Los Ilegales and their managers were amazed by the beauty that Belize has to offer. They expressed their joy in being at La Isla Bonita and commented that this was their first experience in a place like San Pedro. Only two of them were brave enough to encounter the sharks in the water. "This is an experience of a life time," commented Anthony. "I had to go swimming with these creatures or I would have not had another chance to do so." The crowd was more than contented with the show. Santino's Messengers performed again after Los Illegales and closed the night at 3 o'clock."

Sunday, August 24, Closing Day
Party animals made an extra effort to rub the sleepiness from their eyes in order to be a part of the Grand Parade which took place on Sunday, at about 4:30 p.m., through the principal streets of San Pedro Town.

After the parade, the festival grounds were opened free of charge to the public. They enjoyed the games, great good and fabulous music provided by the San Pedro High School Band, the Turtle Shell Band and Santino's Messengers and Andy Palacio. The 1997 International Sea & Air festival officially closed at midnight.

San Pedro Sun

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San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News

San Pedro Sun

Front Page of This Issue

Previous Issues

Copyright 1996, San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News