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Ricardo Peña & the Aztec Dancers cover image

Ricardo Peña & the Aztec Dancers 2022


Distributed by Palomino Productions, PO Box 8565, Berkeley, CA 94707; 510-236-3257
Produced by Palomino Productions and Eve A. Ma
Directed by Eve A. Ma
Streaming, 25 mins

Middle School - General Adult
Dance; Mexico; Native Peoples

Date Entered: 01/03/2023

Reviewed by Lorraine Wochna, Performing Arts Librarian, African American Studies/Literature, Ohio University

Ricardo Peña & the Aztec Dancers, is a short documentary on dance and the Aztec community, and how their cultural connections through dance bring them together. The film centers around Ricardo Peña, originally from central Mexico, leader and chief drummer for the Aztec Dance group based in the Bay area, San Francisco.

The documentary is short and very simply constructed. Ricardo Peña is being interviewed in his store in San Francisco; the camera is on Peña as he answers questions about Aztec culture, dance, and ceremony. During the film, the interviewer goes between speaking with Peña to inserting clips from an Aztec Dance Ceremony performed in San Francisco. During the conversation, Pena explains how each part of the costume ‘regalia’ is created and the purpose of the materials, colors chosen and sounds. We are left with his thoughts on the ceremony, “Through the dance, this is how we pray. Connecting with the creator.”

Though the production value is quite simple, the filmmaker does identify and raise our awareness about the Aztec people of Mexico and cultural heritage. It is always inspirational to see a film where indigenous communities share their stories and their history and allow us to experience their celebrations.

Recommended for Middle School through General adults; although the focus on the content is not academic, all levels of viewers will benefit from this film.

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.