We are greatly saddened to hear of the recent passing of Maestro Hugo Betancourt Morales of Quetzalli. We met several decades ago when his group was touring California and I was teaching Danzantes del Alma de UC Davis.
In the late 1980’s, the request came from the university to help promote the performance and to buy tickets to see them. My response was, how about if we organize a reception to welcome them, organize a workshop (for our students to learn from their teachers) and roll the ticket price into the registration for the workshop. They loved the idea as so was born a life-long relationship of creating new and exciting folklorico learning opportunities. We used the same format with great success for Silvia Lozano’s group when they visited UC Davis several years in a row.
In 1990, while directing the ANGF Conference in San Jose, Rudy tapped him to come and teach and present. He was so excited about the event that he organized a bid party–on the spot, AND WON–to take the ANGF Conference to Xalapa the following year. It was ‘folklorico academic heaven’ as he saw to every detail to make it a memorable and educational experience. 1991 was a pivotal year for Danzantes Unidos, as well. It was a year in which the festival found itself without a host group to carry on the tradition.
How did we solve the problem? 1) We knew that Quetzalli would be touring California again. 2) We also knew that we needed a hook to call a meeting of directors to discuss the future of Danzantes Unidos and 3) We knew that we could also use the event to attract directors, promote the upcoming ANGF and promote the Quetzalli tour. So, in a conjoined effort, we organized an improvised DUF in Fresno and invited the directors of California to come to the meeting and enjoy a workshop with Quetzalli. It was another win-win-win situation and the relationship was sealed.
ANGF 1991 was a resounding success AND Danzantes Unidos got the platform and impetus to create a Steering Committee that later led to the ‘incorporation’ of the organization and ensured that never again would we find ourselves in the situation of not having the festival take place.
Danzantes Unidos gives thanks again to Maestro Hugo Betancourt and extends condolences to his family and all the Quetzalli’s over the years on the loss of their leader. We hope that his group will continue his legacy and look forward to supporting that effort.
Maria Luisa Colmenarez & Rudy F. Garcia