Tell us more about the different projects of Aztec Stories.
Throughout the year I share themed programs typically based on the seasons. I have a spring program, a fall program that shares knowledge about the origins of Dia de Los Muertos/Day of the Dead, I have oral tradition storytelling programs, and I have a very special foods program titled “The Seven Warrior Foods of the Mexica People.” I also offer workshops on making gourd water drums. In addition to the performances I have also recorded three CDs which are available on my web site. And just recently I started making how-to videos for my web site and YouTube.
Your day job is at Mattel. How do you feel being in what some might say are two worlds — the world of corporate America and in Aztec Stories?
This comes back to one of your earlier questions about learning and maintaining your cultural heritage, knowledge, and wisdom, while simultaneously acquiring contemporary skills and technology so as to become a contributor in the global community. I do live in both worlds and enjoy it! The corporate world supports the day-to-day living for my family and my cultural journey supports my passion. It is not uncommon for an artist to have a job in addition to making time for his/her art. And, in today’s economy, many artists need that alternative form of income to sustain themselves and their art. I would add that it works to your advantage in keeping the two jobs separate in focus and goals so that one does not infringe upon the other. Also, find a job that you enjoy contributing your energies towards – something that is meaningful to you.
What have been some of the reactions of the children at your presentations?
A sense of pride to those connected to the native cultures of this continent would be a frequent reaction I see. Also a true curiosity to know and learn more is something I see and hear expressed regularly. Children love the instruments, as do adults. When they see a turtle shell and learn that it is a two-toned drum, they are amazed and curious. I love watching their expressions change when I introduce a new instrument and tell them the story behind it. They are captivated and looking forward to “what’s next”?
Will you tell us more why you decided to make many of the musical instruments you play?