Brilliant colors, vibrant dance, artful words, and a dose of humor will bring Día de Muertos alive for one night at Austin College on Monday, November 5, at 5 p.m. as the Austin College Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies presents “Day of the Dead – La Catrina Mexica y Nezahualcóyotl” in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall. The performance, presented mostly in Spanish with an English introduction, is very visual so can be enjoyed regardless of language, organizers explain. The event is free and open to the public; auditorium doors open at 4:30 p.m. Sherman Hall is located on Grand Avenue.
Artists and actors Erik De Luna and Román Iván Gómez will bring to life the dance, poetry, philosophy, and rites of central Mexico one century before the arrival of the Spanish. This performance will feature a pre-Hispanic personification of death (la Catrina prehispánica) and the 15th-century poet king Nezahualcóyotl.
“Erik De Luna is an amazing artist who not only has a keen original aesthetic but also a performer’s ability to sense an audience,” said Dr. Julie Hempel, director of the Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies. “The show that he is bringing to Austin College is based on the theme he is presenting this year in Querétaro, Mexico. He is working with seasoned actor Román Iván Gómez who will portray the Pre-Hispanic poet Nezahualcóyotl. The performance will be mostly in Spanish, but it is also full of visuals, dance, and rituals, so it will be entertaining to a wide audience. It is a rare chance to see how ancient Mexicans celebrated Day of the Dead.”
Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, is a Latin American holiday of celebration and festival that honors the dead and the belief that on this day, the dead join the living in celebration.Though held a few days after the American Halloween, the holidays are not related, and Day of the Dead is not considered a scary or sad event. Skeletons and skulls that are the familiar symbols of the day are nearly always festively decorated and portrayed as enjoying life.
Erik De Luna began his artistic career with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. While studying at the Autonomous University of Querétaro in Mexico, he joined the university theater group “Los Cómicos de la Legua.” Through acting, he discovered a passion for performance and costume design in addition to drawing and the visual arts. He has continued to write, direct, and perform shows at the university theater for the past 19 years, most notably shows centering on Day of the Dead. In 2003, Erik designed a lotería game featuring images to match the more than 50 names that Mexicans use to personify death. Since then, he has portrayed the Catrina (a traditional death figure) and continued to draw, paint, and design costumes for more than 100 Catrinas. He has appeared on the cover of National Geographic Traveler as the“Catrina Monarca” and as an invited artist during the premiere of the movie Coco in Morelia, Mexico. In the past two years, he has performed throughout Mexico and internationally in Shanghai, Madrid, and Vienna
Román Iván Gómez, an architect by training, has acted with “Los Cómicos de la Legua” at the Autonomous University of Querétaro theater for almost 13 years. Most recently, he appeared in the all-male production of La Casa de Bernarda Alba. Other productions include: Bajo tierra, Salón Calavera, Milagritos a la orden, La tradicional pastorela navideña, Yerma, and Los gritos mudos de las voces muertas.These last three works are musicals directed by Maestro Alejandro Celia.
The Austin College Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies promotes collaborative learning between students of the college and faculty members, with special emphasis on the historical, cultural, social, economic, and political issues facing Texas and Mexico.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book , Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.