THE VOICE OF LOS CENZONTLES
SILICON VALLEY, CA -- As their singer, musician, composer and music teacher, Lucina Rodriguez, known in the art world as Lucina, who also teaches Mexican folkloric Dances and serves as their spoke person with the press, may be described as the Voice of Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy, an innovative music school, community space for youth and families, a hub of Latino artists, and a band. who also produces original music, and Videos that was founded by Mexican American Maestro (teacher) and Grammy-nominated Musician Eugene Rodriguez, in San Pablo, California in l989. After graduating with a Bachelor and Master degree in music from the San Francisco's Conservatory of Music, Maestro Rodriguez founded his Academy as part of the California Arts Council artist residency program, with the unique goal to create a place where youth could learn the traditional music and dances from Mexico.
Lucina has been part of Los Cenzontles since the age of 15 when she enrolled as student in the Academy, looking for voice lessons. Because of her multiple abilities, in our telephone interview, with the multi-talented artist, we ask her to introduce herself:
Lucina: "My name is Lucina Rodriguez, and I am a teacher, writer, composer for the Los Cenzontles band and also a music instructor for the Los Cenzontles Academy. I was born and raised in Mexico and came to the USA when I was eleven years old. I first came to Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy as student, when I was fifteen years old, to take voice lessons, and what attracted me to Los Cenzontles from the beginning, was, that even when I was raised in Mexico I did not know many of the different Mexican styles of dancing from its different regions, that Los Cenzontles were teaching here."
"At that time, I was also a dancer and had worked with Folk artists from Mexico, and from them I had learned to dance different sones, which you dance in zapateado, but I was not aware, because nobody had taught me that, that if you are in Michoacan you are going to dance the son differently that you dance the son Jarocho from Veracruz because the tempos of the music are different and the rhythms of the music are different in every region. I knew how to dance the sones from Michoacan, because Atilano Lopez, another artist, had taught me how to dance the sones from Michoacán as well as to sing the Pirekua in its original indigenous language. And as a dancer, I had also worked with folk Artist Master Don Julian Gonzalez from the state of Jalisco, who had taught me how to play and sing in the traditional original mariachi style. (Before the mariachi became an orchestra), But I still got fascinated by what the Academy was teaching me about listening, and what attracted me the most was when I started learning to listen to the variety of indigenous rhythms. "
Because Lucina has a mellow, tone of voice and she was also a dancer of styles like The Quebradita, she was asked if she could also teach dance to the students and she became a teacher. To learn what she teaches now, we asked her:
C.W.B. Are you the Director of Los Cenzontles music department?
Lucina: "No. I am the Music Director of the Academy, because as you may know we are Los Cenzontles Dance, and Los Cenzontles Academy. I am a member of Los Cenzontles Dance, because as you know, I sing and dance, with the band, and a Director of the Academy.
C.W.B. What do you do in the Academy?
Lucina: As its music director, and with another teacher, we prepare kids to play music. And our style of teaching is very unique because most of our students start learning to dance when they are four years old. They start with me, and I teach them all the basic rhythms. (learning to dance in Los Cenzontles begin with learning rhythms) the different styles of music, and how to feel the different styles of music using lots of games, to kind of solidify the rhythms, built their musicality by repetition, and integration and improvisation. They learn the fundamentals with me. I made learning to dance, a game for them. And as we all know, children like games."
C.W.B. Do you teach them as a group or individually?
Lucina: "Before the pandemic we were teaching them as a group, but with the pandemic we had to stop working with groups and with four year olds. So, in the Summer, we started teaching kids the basics the hybrid way (online and in person) and only to the seven year olds, starting with The son Jarocho, which is what I teach the students first, and then we built up to the son Alajeño from Jalisco. So, this Summer I taught, some kids online and other in person.
C.W.B. How do you select your students?
Lucina: We just take a student and put him/her in a team and then, when we consider that they had learned what their level required, we move them to a different more advance level. If we think that they are ready to take an instrument, we also give them an instrument that they would like to learn to play. But most of the time, our student take two classes: Rhythms (dance) and an instrument so, when singing, they can start accompanying themselves."
C.W.B. And to end our interview, Lucina what in your opinion makes Los Cenzontles Unique?
Lucina: "That we allow our students to participate in our programs and teach our students to continue to grow, and pass our traditions and culture to the next generations, "
And only Los Cenzontles Academy can do that, because it has the talent, the artists, the singers, the musicians, the dancers, a production company, which provide the public with a variety of documentaries and films, their next one
! CELEBRANDO LA CULTURA! which will be presented to the audience FREE of Charge in A four-day Virtual and in-Person event in partnership with the WATSONVILLE FILM FESTIVAL in Watsonville, California, that with support from the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and Arts Council Santa Cruz County will be presented on Thursday, September 15 through September 18 at 6PM and that can be watched at https://watsonvillefilmfest.org/