ÍFolklórico!, the annual collaborative production sponsored by Allan Hancock College, runs May 3 -6 in the Severson Theatre on the Santa Maria campus. This year’s show features singer Chris Diaz, a newly-appointed professor in the music program at the college, as well as guest choreographer and dancer, Chasen Greenwood. Dianne Grieco McMahon, fine arts department chair and dance program coordinator, will direct the cast of more than 150 dancers and singers celebrating Mexico’s lively, colorful, festive and diverse culture.
Before pursuing a career in education, Diaz worked for multiple independent recording studios, as well as in major institutions such as the former Sony Music Studios. He spent several years in New York City working for the internationally recognized indie label, Putumayo World Music, and his varied interests in multicultural styles are a testament to his time there. Diaz plays piano, guitar, drums, and has released three full-length albums, one of which charted in the DFW Soundscan DMA, just above Enya and Paul McCartney, for that week. His compositional interests include popular/commercial music, hip-hop, string quartets, multicultural collaborations, and film scoring.
Diaz completed undergraduate degrees in commercial music and recording technology, marketing and music business. He holds a master’s degree in music and human learning from The University of Texas at Austin where he studied pedagogy with Robert Duke and mariachi performance with Zeke Castro. He is also classically trained on the baritone, having studied with Samuel Savage, student of acclaimed tenor, Franco Corelli.
Diaz has held teaching positions in both public and private schools teaching both popular and classical style voice lessons to students from kindergarten to seniors, and everything in between. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertation at UC Riverside. Accompanying himself with guitar, Diaz will sing mariachi standards “Volver” and “El Rey” for ÍFolklórico!
Greenwood, the multi-talented dancer, choreographer, singer and actor was named by Dancer magazine as “one to watch.” He began his career as a young actor and singer in Chuck Norris films, with Leann Rimes, and in musicals “Casper” (national tour), “Oliver,” “The Music Man,” “All my Sons” and “West Side Story.” Stepping away from singing to pursue a career in dance, Greenwood trained on full scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet Austin, Texas Ballet Theatre and was Balanchine-trained under Lisa Cuzion. In 2010, he moved to Los Angeles to further pursue his dance and music career and has since choreographed for Eva Longoria, Kid Conrad and Amber Blu. Greenwood has coached young performers on Broadway, for Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded “Best Young Choreographer” at Regional Dance America Southwest.
Greenwood has toured nationally with State Street Ballet as a soloist and is now a company member with the Barak Ballet in Los Angeles. Besides performing and choreographing for ÍFolklórico!, he will dance in PCPA’s upcoming summer production of “Newsies.”
Also making their debut in this year’s production is Ballet Folklórico el Padrecito. Based in Guadalupe, the youth group was founded in 2012 by Father Masseo Gonzalez and is currently directed by Marivel Lozano. Other participating groups include both adult and youth dancers from Allan Hancock College, as well as Righetti, Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley high schools.
The show runs Wednesday, May 3, through Saturday, May 6, at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $12 each and available at the Performing Arts Center Box Office on the college’s Santa Maria campus. Children ages five and older are welcome to attend. Box Office hours are 12:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, or call (805) 922-8313. For more information, call 922-6966 ext. 3411.