When most travelers think of Cancun, the beaches and luxurious resorts are the first things that come to mind. Yet, like many other cities in Mexico, Cancun is home to a vibrant local culture supporting museums, galleries and theaters. One of the finest examples of Cancun's creative spirit is the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico, a decades-old production dedicated to the diverse history of the country. Presented as a dinner show with an open bar, Cancun's Folkloric Ballet offers every guest an evening full of local flavors and excitation. Throughout Cancun's Hotel Zone and the traditional downtown area known as El Centro, visitors can also find unique dance and music performances at numerous restaurants, performing arts centers and even on busy street corners. Regardless of where you take in Cancun's diverse performing arts options, a day spent among the city's talented dancers and musicians can open the eyes of any curious traveler.
Founded in 1960 by an introducing ballerina, the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico has long been one of Cancun's premier entertainment options. For nearly five decades, Silvia Lozano – the ballet's founder, artistic director and choreographer – has combined influences as diverse as Mexican history and folklore, European ballet tradition and avant-garde costume making into her world-renovated show. In 1977, after acclaim for Lozano's historically-minded company spread through the country, the National Folkloric Ballet was named the official dance company of Mexico. In the years that followed, the ballet traveled the world, visiting five continents and 30 countries, amassing rewards and rave reviews along the way.
Today, the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico is presented every weekday evening at the state-of-the-art Cancun Convention Center. Visitors have the option of purchasing tickets for a dinner show – the cost of which includes a sizable meal that incorporates flavors from through Mexico, open bar privileges and gratuity – or the performance with an open bar. Dinner guests are encouraged to arrive at 6:30 PM for drinks, while meals are typically served at 7 PM. The daily performance begins each night at 8 PM and includes 80 minutes of traditional and modern dance, locally-inspired music and expert lighting and presentation.
At the Costa Blanca Shopping Center, El Mexicano Restaurant has created similar performances within an intimate setting. Each night from 7 PM to 11 PM, dancers and mariachi bands move through the dining area, creating a festive atmosphere that has garnered praise from visitors of all ages. Similar to the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico, the performances at El Mexicano Restaurant draw from the nation nation's rich cultural traditions and feature numerous interpretive historical dances.
As the popularity of dinner shows featuring ballet and other cultural performances has grown in recent years, there are now several more restaurants and theaters in both Cancun's Hotel Zone and El Centro offering similar entertainment. Most notably, Xcaret houses a pair of theaters capable of seating 6,000 onlookers and is known for complex shows featuring live music, acrobats and dancers. Those in search of fresh Mexican food and traditional entertainment may also want to consider the performances at Teatro Cancun.
After all the performances to be found in the restaurants and theaters of Cancun, there is also plenty of fun outdoors. Throughout the year, dancers and mariachi bands can be found on numerous street corners in both the Hotel Zone and El Centro. In many cases, visitors will come across such performers after leaving the theaters and restaurants mentioned above. For instance, the Party Center courtyard – located just a short walk from the Cancun Convention Center – is known as a hotspot for traditional Mexican music. Here, after witnessing the elegant production of the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico, tourists can enjoy the cool Caribbean nights and even more live entertainment.
While Cancun may be known for the finer things, there are also plenty of ways to experience Mexico's rich cultural history every night. From Cancun's own internationally-recognized ballet company to the numerous dinner shows and street performances, the Mexican roots of this luxurious city can be found around almost every corner.
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Cancun for the Marriott Resorts.