As a young girl growing up in Mexico City, Ixela Gutierrez watched her older sisters dance and dreamed that she would do the same one day. She studied performances, steps, styles and choreography, sneaking backstage after school to watch performances by Mexico’s Ballet Folklórico de México at the renowned Palacio de Bellas Artes. By the time she was 11 years old, Ixela knew that she would dedicate her life to dance. Her formal training began at the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and she has continued over the past 20 years to expand her knowledge of the myriad dance steps, costumes and styles that enrich the ballet folklorico tradition.
Ixela came to the United States from Mexico City in the early 1990s to tour with her brother’s dance company, based in Dallas, Texas. In 1994 she moved to Las Vegas and began performing solo while establishing her own dance company, Mexico Vivo. Her passion for dance, music and culture are shared by the Mexico Vivo performers and are apparent in every presentation. In 2007 Ixela and Mexico Vivo received a Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Folk and Traditional Arts, in recognition for their enduring contributions to Nevada thorough artistic achievement and service to the arts since 1995. In 2009 Ixela received the first-ever Nevada Heritage Award, created to honor Nevada folk artists who are the finest and most influential masters of their particular art forms and traditions.
Mexico Vivo’s repertoire includes choreographed versions of traditional folk dances that represent the ancient roots of Mexico as well as the diversity of its regions, cultures and history. Under Ixela’s direction, the troupe also builds on traditional styles to develop modern expressions of Mexican dance, creating a “language of movement” that represents a fusion of the old ways with the new. The dancers provide an explanation of each dance’s background, meaning and role in traditional culture. Elaborate costumes and traditional music, with rhythms that vary from slow and romantic to highly energized, are integral to the colorful presentations.