Click on Artist for Info on Each One:
A Note on Festival de Leyendas:
Why Leyendas? We know many of you asked this question and had no idea what to expect at this event. Festival de Leyendas began with a vision to bring our culture to new generations of gente, to ensure that our time-honored stories are not lost. It also began as a way to celebrate our beautiful culture, our heritage and our beautiful selves. Colectiva's anti-appropriation mission is to produce events celebrating our culture that are produced by Latinos and/or are led by Latinos. We also strive to bring our culture into the lives of those who are not able to return to their homelands but crave that sense of "home" and belonging. The leyendas our families have passed down are enticing, interesting, and yes, sometimes macabre, frightening and disturbing. Leyendas and mitos are rooted in the knowledge of and belief in the supernatural. We all remember the feeling in our solar plexus and the butterflies in our stomachs as our caregivers recounted these stories to us as children. There was always a mix of fear, curiosity and a twinge of excitement as we listened then retold the stories to our hermanitos, primitos and amiguitos. And there was the wonder if you would ever encounter any of the supernatural subjects and there was the hope that you might see them, preferably from a distance, then live to recount your own encounter with them. As children, many of the stories we are told are meant to keep our travesuras to a minimum and our innocence alive.
This project began as a passion project for Rachel Garcia, CEO of Colectiva, as a keeper and ambassador of our culture and as a storyteller and writer herself, these stories have long fascinated her and she has felt a calling to keep them alive for many years. Her vision for this project is grand, much grander than this year's inaugural iteration. As a starting point Rachel very carefully selected her collaborators on this project. The curation of each Creative/Artist was well-thought out and each were chosen for their immense talents and dedication to our culture. Each of the core members of Colectiva, Alfonso Meraza Prudente, Chuy Gutierrez, Edwin Sandoval and Jose Rosales were invited to showcase their talents and to form the foundation of this project. All of them immediately and enthusiastically signed on to be a part of it. Alfonso and Jose brought the talents of their dance/theater company, Artistico, costuming and production of the festival, Chuy brought his expertise in spirits and crafted cocktails named after leyendas to the festival and Edwin carefully crafted a menu to delightfully feed all of our guests. Rachel went to work on building the brand with the help of Gustavo Lemus Lemus, who assisted in logo design. With her core team secured, Rachel sought out to add to the team the artistic talents of Norberto Mojardin to bring to life the leyendas via sets and character design. Norberto was also an immediate, "yes" and certainly delivered, going way outside of his comfort zone to create amazing creatures and the eerie ambiance of the theatre in the round. Next, Rachel procured the talents of Bobby LeFebre, the current sitting Poet Laureate of the great State of Colorado. Bobby was asked to participate by adding a Denver twist to the Festival, by recounting his version of the leyenda of the devil visiting the legendary club in Denver known as "Los Caporales". Next Rachel rounded out the Festival by enlisting the talents of Marcela Lay for salsa dance interpretation, Michel Gonzalez Rodriguez for ballet aerial interpretation, and local storyteller expert, Manuel Aragon to interpret the story of "La LLorona", one of the most time honored leyendas of our time. Though a partnership with Youth On Record we were able to secure Grupo Kaoba to play for us and the talents of Jen Korte as a sound tech extraordinaire. We also secured the photography talents of Arturo @TuryMx to document the event. Other storytellers and talents were enlisted to be a part of the major success of this project as well.
The site of the Festival, "Re:Vision", was selected early on as part of a neighborhood activation to bring people into the neighborhood to activate the businesses and showcase the opportunities in the neighborhood. Re: Vision is located in Denver's west side/Westwood neighborhood which is predominately Latino. That is one of the main reasons for our selection of Re:Vision for this project. Re:Vision was an amazing space to host the Festival and they were enthusiastic about hosting us. We hope you will visit their website to learn more about their organization and the Westwood neighborhood. In the end the dream to host 2 activations as part of this Festival was realized, with a very successful Festival Familiar, a family friendly version being held in the day and the 21+ Masquerade version being held in the evening. A very special thank you to each of our partners and collaborators. We could not have done this without you!
A deeper dive into the leyendas reveals many of them have always served the purpose of "morality tales" and of keeping individuals from behaving immorally or "badly". Many of the stories, originally, were intended to keep indigenous populations from overtaking their colonizers. They were used as a mechanism to maintain control over the indigenous populations. There is a history of racism, patriarchal ideals, toxic masculinity and oppression to many of the ancient stories. Many of the stories derived from legends told among indigenous people, but then were reinforced or made more frightening by their colonizers. We understand in order to celebrate these stories as a part of our culture we must also reclaim the power to identify and name those things done nefariously. By doing so, we empower ourselves to reclaim the stories that remain as pieces of a complicated and complex history of colonization yet that also survived because of our indigenous ancestors' determination to maintain their own identities, culture and traditions. Due to colonization, we are a mezcla of people, to deny any part of that history is to deny pieces of ourselves. While we do not agree with nor justify the tragedies that befell our ancestors at the bloody hands of colonization, we do wish to reclaim our ancestors' stories and to celebrate them through the cultural traditions they passed down to us. We understand and denounce the tragedies and we reclaim the beauty of our culture and the wisdom of our ancestors. We also proudly rail against the erasure and white-washing of our culture. This is us stepping into our power, reclaiming and owning it. As Dr. Angelou teaches us, "I go forth as one, and stand as ten thousand.", meaning our ancestors are leading us in this work and we must not dishonor them nor must we betray their many sacrifices that led us here. Thus, we celebrate our ancestors and cultural heritage through our leyendas. This is the basis for Festival de Leyendas.
Thank you for being a part of this amazing world premier project! We look forward to receiving your continued support of this project as we grow it! We really see endless possibilities in this endevour and we see you loving it as it grows! We have many, many more ideas you will enjoy. It was so very special to have you all with us this year and we are so grateful for all of the positive feedback. Thank you! -La Familia Colectiva