Three kings, a live donkey and dancers galore add up to a GALA DC celebration
Since the annual Fiesta de los Reyes Magos/The Three Kings Day Celebration has become so popular in the DC’s Spanish-speaking community, folks at the GALA Hispanic Theatre offered two performances this year, held today in Columbia Heights. Both performances, staged in between a parade with live animals from a Leesburg Animal Park, were filled to capacity with cheering fans of the international Christmas tale, set to music, dance, and even some comedic touches.
Families with babies in blankets and young children huddled together to keep warm – lined up hours before the 11:30 a.m. show (which this writer attended), and few were turned away. Those who missed the first performance were able to get tickets (free to all) for the 1:30 pm event that followed the parade and walk through the neighborhood. All the children received an age-appropriate gift, presented by Los Reyes/The Three Kings – Bienvenido Martinez (Baltasar), Jose Sueiro (Gaspar), and Hector Diaz (Melchior).
Master of Ceremonies Alejandro Negron and the foot-stomping, hand-clapping music of Oro Y Arcilla warmed up the crowd. Valencia Amaguana and her brother Daniel opened the first set with songs from their album, among them “Mi Manana” (“My Tomorrow”) and “Gloria.” They continued with songs from Puerto Rico and other South American countries that celebrate this special holiday, and we were told stories about leaving shoes under the bed to be filled with candy and goodies. No matter which country tales were told, the message was the same: children would be rewarded with sweets and animals would also be remembered with sugar.
Dance fans were treated to performances by two Latin American troupes, Los Quetzales, directed by Laura Ortiz, representing Mexico, followed by Alma Boliviana, danza folclorica from Bolivia. Grand sweeps and turns are the signature of the Mexican dancers who are based in Virginia. One standout in the early performance was 16 year-old Alie Benavides, a student at Annandale High School.
Fiesta de los Reyes Magos/The Three Kings Day Celebration shows the different side of their Spanish heritage. There was a hint of African dance steps along with native influences, and Gypsy dance fans or those with a passion for the art cheered heartily.
Nonetheless, the focus was a Nativity scene, located stage right with a darling little angel and her dog, who remained calm throughout the lively show. At the conclusion, a donkey was brought to the manger, then the children in the audience were invited to join the Holy Family on stage.
Kudos to GALA for a wonderful holiday experience. Another shout-out is given to the volunteers from the National Community Church for keeping things moving along nicely.