Aztec Style

Ollin is like a Greek myth wrapped in colorful Aztec garb. Packed with omens, an operatic opening, spoken-word poetry, dance and visual art, this interpretive retelling of the conquest of Mexico by Spain is kabuki theater married to the myth of Quetzalcoatl. Physical meets metaphysical as the two cultures famously collide. According to composer Daniel Valdez, Montezuma and the Aztec people viewed the landing of Hernando Cortez as the return of the Aztec creator god Quetzalcoatl — which made conquering a civilization with barely 300 troops that much easier.

"I was trying to bring the whole conquest into perspective for kids," says Valdez. "I followed Aztec prophesy. I tried to tell the conquest from the perspective of Montezuma and Cortez."

The play opens with a sunrise and the operatic "Earthquake Sun," which foreshadows the conquest of Mexico before flashing back 500 years to the myth of Quetzalcoatl, as the audience learns the omens and signs regarding the Aztec life phases, or Five Suns. The plot comes back to Montezuma as Cortez lands, meets his female translator and conquers tribes all the way to the capital city, where the defeated Aztec people help overthrow their bloodthirsty ruler. The play culminates with Cortez and his translator giving rise to modern Mexico with the birth of the first Mestizo.

Ollin opens tonight at 8:05 p.m. at El Centro Su Teatro, 4725 High Street, and runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through March 29. Tickets are $18 general admission and $15 for students and seniors. For more information, call 303-296-0219 or visit
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:05 p.m. Starts: Feb. 21. Continues through March 29, 2008

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Mark Dragotta