¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! (Viva) 2023-2024 season features five performers including Grammy nominee Perla Batalla, the nationally distinguished Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles, America’s first all-female mariachi Mariachi Reyna de Los Ángeles, music innovator Quitapenas, and Bordeño-soul group Jarabe Mexicano.
Ventura-based singer Batalla brings her experience traversing musical borders to her programs of traditional and contemporary Latin American music. Her dad, a Mexican mariachi and DJ, and her Argentine mom ran Discoteca Batalla, a Los Angeles record shop, where Batalla was exposed to music that cut across genres and languages.
Batalla’s performances express her love for her mestiza identity and the hybrid musical culture in which she was raised.
Founded in 2011 by artistic director Kareli Montoya, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles tells stories of Mexican heritage through original choreography inspired by traditional folk dance forms.
The company achieved international recognition when it was featured in the 90th Academy Awards ceremony dancing in celebration of the Disney/Pixar film “Coco.”
Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles has performed with Lila Downs, Pepe Aguilar, and leading mariachi ensembles such as Mariachi Divas and Mariachi Camperos.
With as many as 40 dancers on stage at once, Ballet Folklórico’s performances offer precision and a spirited expression of Mexican culture.
Blazing a trail for women in a male-dominated musical genre, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles bring sensitivity, beauty, warmth and spirit to the historic art of mariachi.
Established in 1994, the group had a strong beginning thanks to the mentorship of Lola Bertran, La Reina de La Música Ranchera. Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles has since gone on to record three albums, share the stage with musicians like Vicki Carr, Guadalupe Pineda and Lucha Villa, and perform for celebrities including Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack and Michelle Obama.
Founded in 2011 and born under the warm California sun, Quitapenas share a love of dance rhythms from the tropical Afro-Latin diaspora. The group is made up of first-generation sons of immigrant parents from Guatemala and Mexico.
They borrow aesthetics from the radical 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Their songs are a remix of history, and invite one to engage in the liberating evenings of Angola, Peru, Colombia, Brazil and beyond.
The name means “to remove worries.” Everybody has a “pena” and the mission of Quitapenas is simple: to make you dance and leave you without a worry.
Jarabe Mexicano captures the nostalgic spirit of its border roots with its brand of Bordeño-Soul, which honors the musical tastes and cultural influences of its members.
Jarabe, which translates to “concoction,” highlights the eclectic mix of genres it performs, from Mexican Folk, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Norteño/Tex-Mex to Latin Rock, Trio Romántico, and Cumbia. Jarabe’s traditional mariachi string instruments and Norteño-inspired drums complement dramatic vocals in English, Spanish, and Spanglish.
Since 2006, ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! has brought arts education to underserved populations throughout Santa Barbara County. Viva is a collaboration between UCSB Arts & Lectures, the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, and the Isla Vista School Parent Teacher Association.
For more about Viva’s free community performances, visit https://artsandlectures.ucsb.edu/learn/viva-el-arte-de-santa-barbara/.