Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of ballet

DALLAS: COME ONE, COME ALL! Watch, as 80 dancers dressed in swirling reds, yellows and greens kick up their heels to the music of ballet folklorico! Marvel, as twirling aerialists perform daring acrobatics on suspended silk ropes!

The show is Anita!, and it honors Anita Martinez, founder of the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico (ANMBF), and former Dallas city council woman. Under the watchful eye of ANMBF’s Executive Director, Lisa Mesa-Rogers, the show celebrates Martinez’s life and accomplishments with dance and performance. The curtain rises at 7:30 pm on Thursday, April 23 at the Winspear Opera House at 2403 Flora Street in Dallas.

Ticket information is available here.


Growing up in Little Mexico ignited an early desire in Martinez to make Dallas “the best city it can be.” A former Mexican-American neighborhood in Dallas, Little Mexico was bordered by Maple Avenue, McKinney Avenue and the MKT Railroad. Being one of six children, she walked to the store because the family had only one bicycle, shared by all six children.

Photo courtesy of Robert Hart/Theater Jones

Anita N. Martinez. Photo courtesy of Robert Hart/Theater Jones

During her walks Martinez often wondered why the street they lived on was so muddy. In no time she discovered that if she could collect enough signatures from nearby residents, the city of Dallas would pave the street. So 14-year-old Martinez went door-to-door collecting signatures. Soon after their street was paved.

“That was a red-letter day for me!” Martinez confesses. From that moment, neighbors turned to her for help.

And with her neighbors’ encouragement and help, in 1969 Martinez became the first woman Hispanic city council member of a major city in the country. She worked hard to bring improvements to her community, and even though she had to deal with discrimination, she got things done. In 1975, when the City of Dallas named a recreation center after her for her exemplary work improving the communities of West Dallas and Little Mexico, Martinez was honored but at the same time troubled by what she saw at the center: Hispanic children shy and withdrawn.


Martinez had an idea about how to unlock their potential, the same approach that had set her free as a child: dancing. Years earlier one of the neighbors had taught her and some of the other girls in the neighborhood some swing steps and some ballet folklorico. She loved it. Sometimes when they were performing, people would peek over the fence and watch. Then they would applaud.

“Dancing made me feel happy and l liked how I felt when they would clap,” Martinez recalls. Dancing gave her a new-found confidence and appreciation for her culture.

She was convinced that by teaching Hispanic youth about the beauty of their culture through the performing arts – Mexican music, dance, and history – they would be proud of their heritage. With improved self-esteem, the children would be motivated to stay in school and set higher goals.

“Kids need a place to help them perform and gain confidence,” Martinez says. So in 1975 the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico was born.

courtesy of ANMFB

graphic courtesy of ANMFB

What started out as a small group of dancers in a community recreation center has been transformed into the most prestigious Folklorico company in North Texas, serving more than 50,000 children each year. And the ANMBF is very proud to be one of five permanent dance companies at the Winspear.

Now 40 years later, supported by public funds, special grants and private donations, the school continues to work towards its mission.


SimoneLazar Credit Lone Star Circus

Simone Lazar. Photo courtesy of Lone Star Circus

Anita! will highlight aspects of Martinez’s life, giving us a 70-minute peak into what has made this woman a legend. The show will feature 80 children from ages 5 to 17, and professional dance artists with the ANMBF Performance Company. Dance segments that highlight aspects of Mrs. Martinez life will include traditional ballet folklorico, representing the regions of Mexico with music and costume.

The show will also feature a modern segment – professional aerialists from Dallas-based Lone Star Circus. Lone Star Circus is the performing arm of Lone Star Arts Center, a non-profit, which promotes circus arts through training, performance and community outreach.


Now in her third year as ANMBF’s Executive Director, Lisa Mesa-Rogers’ role of overseeing the production of Anita! is a labor of love.

Anita! was born during a creative meeting with ANMBF staff and is written by Al J. Martinez, Anita’s son and directed by Frank Latson,” Mesa-Rogers reports. “We have worked with three choreographers and are using video projections, live vocals, aerialists, and African Drummers/Dancers.

There have been surprises as well as challenges in bringing Anita! to life.

“The biggest surprise has been the work of two Art Conspiracy volunteers coming to help out on our technical team,” she shares. “Erica Felicella and Clayton Smith came along and really helped us navigate the new technical components of the show.”

Lisa Mesa-Rogers

Lisa Mesa-Rogers. Photo courtesy of Robert Hart/Theater Jones

Art Conspiracy is a Dallas-based non-profit that brings artists together to raise funds and heighten awareness for regional creative programs and cause. The organization also donated $25,000 to ANMBF last year.

Mesa-Rogers says it was important to include all of our company dancers in the show. “We have dancers that are overcoming incredible odds and the stage has become their equalizer.”

The biggest challenge with the show has been securing the funding needed to complete the project. “We are a very small organization and we were really disappointed that we didn’t get an underwriter for the show,” Mesa-Rogers admits. “But we were also thrilled that Neiman Marcus donated to help us bring more than 1,000 children to the Winspear Opera House.”

And all the while, her adoration for Martinez remains steadfast.

“One thing I have learned is that although we are her namesake, it has never been about her,” she says. “Anita has been the most gracious and grateful person I have ever met. She is tough and determined and she encourages me as I try to widen the impact of our organization.”

Mesa-Rogers says that that although Martinez has seen video excerpts of the show, there are still some surprises lurking. So come see it with her! Join us on April 23 for this very special tribute!

To find out more about the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico or to donate, click here.

To read my full-length feature about Anita’s amazing life (so far), click here.

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Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

There is a reason, Energizing Our World, a 55-minute documentary on sustainability, was screened on the closing night of Denton’s annual Thin Line Film Festival last month.

Perhaps it’s the way viewers are instantly drawn into the lush landscapes of Costa Rica and California and striking cityscapes of Spain and The Netherlands.

Maybe it’s because the business leaders and educators in the film make a complex concept like sustainability easy to understand.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Could it be the soulful voice of its celebrity narrator, Academy Award nominee, Edward James Olmos?

Or perhaps it’s seeing for ourselves that using renewable energy (solar and wind power), and recycling waste (like sludge from oil refineries being turned into diesel fuel and CO2 being used in place of water to dye fabrics) might keep us from running out of natural resources.

One thing that’s certain: it is under the watchful eye of Executive Producer, Joni Bounds (JNB Holding Company) that both her teams (in front of and behind the camera) have created a film that inspires its viewers to make our planet healthier for ourselves and for future generations.

“Everyone was so passionate about what we were doing,” says Bounds. “Not only is the film insightful, the interviewees are stewards of the earth and great role models for children, students and adults.”

Bounds says that getting Olmos on board, as the film’s narrator almost immediately was the biggest surprise of making the film.

“What surprised me the most was to obtain services with Mr. Olmos within a 48 hour turn around!”

Olmos, who takes one minute showers (to save water) and collects trash on daily walks through the mountain trails near his home in California, was the perfect fit for the film. He certainly set the stage with his gentle father-earth voice, reminding us that our planet is a living thing that we are all responsible for.

“Everybody’s intention when they made this movie was exactly the same – to advance humanity to the highest levels of understanding and to make them become even better people on this planet,” Olmos said in a recent interview with Real-Latino.The director, Susan Sember, really made it [the film] more human.”

Sember (The Gathering, IMAX/3D Blue Whale Journey), an award-winning documentary film director and producer along with director of Photography Robert Settlemire (Underwater Director of Pirates of the Caribbean and Life of Pi), brought the film to life. Sember is known for shooting documentary films using 4K resolution cameras. The extra resolution adds more detail, depth and color resolution to the film, making watching it more like looking through a window than watching a film.


Photo by Eunice Nicholson

Energizing Our World takes us on a picturesque journey around the globe. Along the way we meet and listen to “change makers” who explain sustainability as it applies to four areas that we need to survive on the planet: agriculture (food), architecture (shelter), energy and water.

Energizing Our World is about the truth behind it all, not politics,” says Bounds.

And as one of the energy experts featured in the film would add, bringing solar-powered electricity to off-the-grid homes in India is a “technical solution not a political solution,” some say that it’s just not that simple.

“When we are considering issues surrounding sustainability, it’s rarely the case that a proposed solution is ‘just technical’ in nature,” explains Professor Robert Frodeman, an environmental philosopher at the University of North Texas. “New technologies change things, creating winners and losers–which is what politics is about.”

Frodeman adds that values are imbedded in the world but we don’t see them as values, we see them as facts. For example, some people value money more than the environment.

“The technocrats dream is to find a ‘solution’ to a pressing problem that causes no muss, no fuss. But human values of one kind of another are always involved.”

Putting politics aside, it’s clear that some of the dreamers out there are working hard to create a better world. Energizing Our World makes us feel good about what is being done now and encourages us to become a part of the solution for the future, because one fact is certain: we all share a planet whose natural resources are shrinking.

Earlier this year, Energizing Our World made it’s world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Later this month, the documentary will be presented at the Palm Beach Film Festival and beyond that, Spain’s Canary Islands Film Festival.

Bounds, a native Texan, was very pleased that the film was included in Denton’s Thin Line Film Festival and hopes it will be included in even more festivals around the world. More festivals mean more exposure and a better chance to be picked up for distribution. Conversations with PBS are currently in the works. This means more people will see the film and hopefully get involved. There’s no doubt that it is going to take a critical mass to create the kind of change that is needed to make our planet sustainable.

So stay tuned!

Click here to view the film’s trailer. You can also visit the film’s website to learn more.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

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