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St. Helena Ballet Folklórico group performs alongside Mexican superstar singer

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Members of Ballet Folklórico El Valle de St. Helena danced at a sold-out Nov. 6 performance by Lila Downs, a seven-time Latin Grammy and Grammy winner and world renowned singer from Mexico, at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.

Ballet Folklórico El Valle de St. Helena, Ballet Folklórico Moon Azteca, and the Solano AIDS Coalition enriched Downs’ performance by providing authentic ballet folklórico, traditional Mexican dress, and couture Catrinas to the presentation.

Downs, an avid supporter of community groups, reached out to Kat Cook, president of the Mira Theatre Guild in Vallejo, to help curate the folkloric component of the show. Cook, having previously managed Downs in the U.S. for a decade, was experienced in the production of her concerts and ballet folklórico integrations.

Cook reached out to Mario Saucedo of the Solano AIDS Coalition and invited him to feature some of his dramatic conceptual Catrinas, and to Yajaira Rubio of Moon Azteca to provide youth folkloric dancers and beautiful Catrinas dressed in Mexican regional traditions for the show.

One more group was needed to meet the demands of so many songs and wardrobe changes, which often occur back to back. Saucedo recommended Alicia Martinez and Ballet Folklórico El Valle de St. Helena.

Martinez — who, like Downs, is from Oaxaca — and Ballet Folklórico El Valle de St. Helena performed regional dances, wearing traditional dress, for seven songs in front of 3,000 fans.

Visitors braved the arrival of rain to enjoy the city of Napa's inaugural Día de los Muertos celebration, which took place Saturday afternoon and evening at Veterans Memorial Park, Dwight Murray Plaza and the Brown Street promenade.

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