Amalia Hernandez’s iconic and beautiful imagery is perfect for the Google era

Amalia  Hernández’s revolutionary moves.
Amalia Hernández’s revolutionary moves.
Image: EPA/Leonardo Munoz
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Google users searching the web Tuesday (Sept. 19) will come across a festive doodle honoring Mexican choreographer Amalia Hernández.

Hernández, who would have been 100 today, is an icon in Mexico. As the director of Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet, which she founded in 1952, she extolled and celebrated her country’s culture in her dances for decades. She mostly worked in the pre-web era—she died in 2000—but the imagery she created, as Google’s doodle demonstrates, shines online.

Here are some of the elements in Hernández’s life’s work that still make it resonate on stage and elsewhere:

Master aggregator

Hernández scoured Mexico’s towns for popular dances and cobbled them into performances fit for the world’s most important stages.

Folkloric Ballet of Mexico performs the dance of the deer
The Dance of the Deer, based on traditional rituals of Sonora’s Yaquis and Mayos, is one of the Folkloric Ballet’s most famous choreographies.
Image: EPA/Leonardo Munoz

Skillful communicator

She used elements from the more universal languages of classical and contemporary dance (link in Spanish) to make Mexico’s traditional forms more easily understandable to broader audiences.

Mexican Folkloric Ballet Amalia Hernandez
Dancers at the ballet Hernández founded are trained in classical and modern dance.
Image: EPA/Sashenka Gutierrez

She distilled Mexicans’ tendency for the baroque into crisp, iconic forms that look great in a darkened theatre, and as stylized doodles.

Folkloric Ballet of Mexico Amalia Hernandez
Costumes are a key element in the ballet’s performances.
Image: EPA/Sashenka Gutierrez

Mexican symbols

Hernández’s ballet helped construct a version of Mexican identity around bright colors that appealed to both Mexicans and foreigners.

Folkloric Ballet of Mexico Amalia Hernandez
The stories of Mexico, danced.
Image: EPA/Christian Escobar Mora

Hernández’s vision of Mexico is idealized, and not immune to accusations of cultural appropriation. But as design, it’s proved to be timeless.

Read more:  A Marshall McLuhan expert annotates the Google Doodle honoring the internet visionary