Posted: 9/05/96

For Immediate Release KLRN-TV Program on Local Matachines Previews Sunday at A&M International



A rare opportunity for Laredoans to see the preview of a program produced by San Antonio's KLRN documenting the dancers of Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz de la Ladrillera takes place this Sunday at Texas A&M International University.

The preview program will be offered in both English and Spanish broadcasts Sunday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. in A&M International's Bullock Hall 101 and 118.

Dr. J. Charles Jennett, A&M International president, said the University is proud to host the premiere of the important cultural offering.

"We are indeed proud to be able to assist KLRN in the presentation of this important cultural offering. This hour-long documentary explores a community-based folk life tradition that is an important part of our area's rich cultural heritage. This documentary allows us to hold on to these remarkable traditions for generations to come," Dr. Jennett said.

Cynthia Shields, Director of Endowment and Donor Relations at KLRN, said the documentary represents a significant effort by KLRN to document the group that has been honored previously by the Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Arts.

"By visually preserving Los Matachines, KLRN hopes to enhance a multi-ethnic public's understanding of the history, identity and aesthetics of a group whose celebration enriches South Central Texas. This effort, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by the members of KLRN, will air in English beginning September 15 and Oct. 12 in Spanish, and be distributed statewide thereafter," she explained.

Highlighting the broadcast preview Sept. 8 will be presentations in English and Spanish by A&M International Professor of English Dr. Norma Cantu. Dr. Cantu most recently served as Senior Arts Specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D. C. Her research areas are folklore, cultural studies and Chicana literature.

In addition, Matachine dancers will present a segment of their dance. The public will have a rare opportunity to see their costumes, hear their music and meet members of the much-honored group.

"We are especially happy to be able to enjoy a performance by the group that appears in our project. Usually, the group's performances are confined to special times and this will be a rare treat for people attending the preview," said Shields.

Refreshments will be provided by a generous donation from International Bank of Commerce.

"International Bank of Commerce continues to be a lead partner in supporting the efforts of KLRN and we appreciate their continued involvement," said Shields.

Since 1939, the members of Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz de la Ladrillera have preserved a neighborhood celebration of matachine dance- drama which pays tribute to the Holy Cross. Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz pays tribute to these people and their traditions in a time when historic traditions are becoming homogenized and diffused in the marketplace, organizers said.

Dr. Cantu, who served as a consultant to the program, explained that the matachine dance-drama performed in Hispanic and Native American communities throughout the Southwest and across Mexico on Catholic feast days honors the Virgin Mary and the Holy Cross.

"It takes many forms in the communities where it is celebrated. Consequently, there are many different stories told about the customs origins. While no one can claim to know the actual origins of the matachine ritual, experts believe it has its roots in a combination of the morality plays brought by early missionaries to Mexico and indigenous rituals practiced before Europeans arrived.

"The most significant example of this tradition in Texas is Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz de la Ladrillera. This Laredo-based community group can trace its version of the custom directly to a nearby area where it began about the turn of the century," she explained.

Project Advisor Pat Jasper, Director of the Texas Folklife Resources Center in Austin, said several different groups celebrated this tradition in Laredo until recently.

"The various groups probably evolved from celebrations practiced by families who had migrated to Laredo from smaller mining villages in northwest Webb County about 50 years ago. Many of the immigrants came from parts of Mexico where native populations had interwoven their traditions with Catholic ones in an attempt to assimilate with the Spaniards. For some of the Laredo groups, the tradition was a celebration where many people were involved in the costume making and the dances. For others, the tradition was a very private family event where a father passed down a family ritual to his sons, " Jasper said.

The program was produced by Marlene Richardson of KLRN-TV in San Antonio.

This is the second activity hosted by A&M International University with KLRN. Earlier this summer the University hosted a successful showing of "The Three Tenors In Concert" that was well-attended by local KLRN supporters and members.

For additional information, contact the Office of Advancement and External Affairs at Texas A&M International University at 326. 2180.

Recorded information on the event is available 24 hours at the A&M International University Special Event Line, 326 - 2171.

A&M International University office hours are from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.