DANCE WONDER LAURIE HERNANDEZ CROWNED DWTS WINNER SEASON 23

 

BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ
DECEMBER 2016
Well, it’s happened again ! After the first show of Dancing With the Stars every season I pick who will win 11 weeks later.  And this past Season 23, I did it again !
Laurie Hernandez, only 16 years old and already an Olympics winner in gymnastics, did it !
For your delight, read on :
 

  FROM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES RE: NOV. 27 DWTS FINALE:

Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy wowed “Dancing With the Stars” fans and judges for 11 consecutive weeks with their fancy footwork. On Tuesday, they were officially crowned the winnersof Season 23.

In his final vlog for Peoplemagazine, Val said that Season 23 coming to a close was “a bittersweet kind of feeling.” He told the publication that he was “grateful” to have been partnered with Laurie on the ABC series, and that winning after her grandmother’s tragic death ahead of Week 10 was among their greatest feats during the competition.

“Last week was a very difficult week for us…Laurie definitely had a rough week, and it was awesome to see her prevail,” Val said. “At such a young age to have the maturity and poise to get through everything she’s gone through this season is really awesome and I’m genuinely proud of her. I’m proud of the young woman that she turned out to be. The grace that she’s shown all season has been awesome. You forget that she’s only 16 years old.”

The pair were announced as the winners at the end of Tuesday’s show, after performing two dances. The first afforded them and their remaining competitors an opportunity to revisit a favorite dance from Season 23 of “DWTS” before performing one last original routine. Laurie and Val’s pick — theirWeek 10 trio dance with Maksim Chmerkovskiy — which also happened to be a hit among fans and judges. They performed it with the same precision and grace that they did the first time around, but were not scored in the finale.

For their second dance of the night Laurie and Val, dubbed Team Valaur, performed a Foxtrot/Argentine Tango combination. Before their performance, the duo shared one last sweet moment in their rehearsal space. Laurie was moved to tears after seeing her and Val’s photos on the walls, telling him how sad she was to no longer be spending day after day learning new moves with him. Their Season 23 finale dance was filled with flips and tricks that elicited quite the response from the “DWTS” judges. Bruno Tonioli immediately jumped from his seat to rave about Laurie and Val. They received a perfect score — as did their competitors.

While everyone brought their A-game to the “DWTS” finale, only one team could win it all. Hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced that Calvin Johnson Jr.and Lindsay Arnold were the first of the Season 23 final three out of the running. With just James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess up against Laurie and Val — and just one point separating them in the judges scores — it was anyone’s guess who would take it. Ultimately Laurie and Val were announced the winners, which they were elated to learn.

Their road to bringing home the Mirror Ball trophy was a long one, but it sure was fun for fans to watch. During their time on “DWTS,” Laurie and Val performed a number of impressive routines. They received more than five perfect scores — an astounding feat for a novice dancer. The olympic gymnasttook to the ballroom just as she would the balance beam, rising to the occasion and taking down the competition with ease.

LAURIE HERNANDEZ  FACTS FROM   POPSUGAR  LATINA WEBSITE AUGUST 2016:
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10 Things You Need to Know About Team USA’s Latina Gymnast, Laurie Hernandez

Lauren (aka Laurie) Hernandez is breaking all kinds of barriers as one of the youngest gymnasts to everjoin Team USA at the Olympics.

The 16-year-old Latina powerhouseis headed to Rio as a member of agroundbreakingly diverse group of young athletes that truly represent the cultural makeup of America, including veterans Gabby Douglas, 20, and Aly Raisman, 22, as well as fellow newcomers Simone Biles, 19, and Madison Kocian, 19.

While we’ll obviously be rooting for the entire team when the intense competition commences on Aug. 5, we’re especially excited to watch Laurie represent our culture in front of a global audience. If, like us, you’re itching to learn even more about her before she takes center stage, read on to discover 10 superinteresting facts, straight from her enlightening NBC Olympics profile.

  1. She was born in New Brunswick, NJ, on June 9, 2000.
  2. She’s second-generation Puerto Rican.
  3. She began her gymnastics career at the age of 5 years old.
  4. She has been home-schooled since she was in the third grade.
  5. She’s the first US-born Latina to make Team USA for the Olympics since Tracee Talavera in 1984.
  6. She’s also the first elite gymnast her coach, Maggie Haney, has ever taught.
  7. She had to take six months off in 2014 after a series of injuries, including a fractured wrist, torn patella ligament, and dislocated knee.
  8. She has more than one nickname.GymCastic, a podcast about gymnastics, affectionately dubbed her “babyShakira,” whileInternational Gymnast Magazineopted for “human emoji.”
  9. Her favorite book isThe Maze Runner.
  10. She gave up her NCAA student athlete eligibility to become a professional gymnast, foregoing her previous commitment to the University of Florida.
NEO NOTE:  A  BIG  AUA! FOR AMERICAN LATINO TALENT!
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RENATO RAMIREZ OF ZAPATA, TEXAS, GETS COVER STORY IN TODO AUSTIN

BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ

NOVEMBER 2016

Renato Ramirez, financial business magnate and community art philanthropist of Zapata, Texas, has done it again. He’s got the cover story and foto in this months’ issue of TODO AUSTIN Magazine. I am personally so proud of him !  He’s my first cousin–his father and my mother were brother/sister !

First, some notes from the staff of TODO AUSTIN, telling us who they are:

 About TODO Austin

TODO Austin is a free-distribution, full color monthly newspaper and online journal for all of Austin, highlighting our multicultural heritage and promoting the concept of community in an ethnically diverse city, through events, arts, music, and advocacy.

TODO Austin and its partner website todoaustin.com celebrate our common heritage while closely mirroring the changgroups, organizations and events that present a positive vision in the community.ing demographics of Austin. We aim to provide a platform to profile the individuals,

 By the way, the young lady in the foto with Renato  is Mimi Marziani, executive director of  the Texas Civil Rights Project.

 Renato wrote in his email to me:

 The magazine has hit the newsstands in Austin.  Tremendous PR for IBC, me, and obviously for the TCRP.!

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Native Texan Renato Ramirez, South Texas IBC Bank’s chief executive officer, is no stranger to the struggles of the most vulnerable groups in our community. Born in Zapata in 1940, then a small rural town in the Rio Grande border, Ramirez has grown up close to the issues that Tejanos face.

Ramirez’s parents owned and ran an automotive shop in Zapata, and his grandparents’ had a ranch that harvested melons, tomatoes, onions and hay. He recalls his father’s work dressing up the eight-mile bridging road to Ciudad Guerrero on the other side of the river without much care for using county equipment on the Mexico side. Ramirez remembers Ciudad Guerrero and Zapata being one community back in the day. Flooding after the construction of Falcon Lake in Zapata led the whole town to move four miles east of the river. The small town’s schools were not college accredited back then and graduates had to take a test for college admission. That’s when the Ramirez family decided to move to Laredo for better educational opportunities.

Ramirez obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University, a master of business administration at The University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate in finance and economics at the University of Tennessee. His financial management teaching jobs led him to a career in banking.

“Over the past 40 years, I have enjoyed serving communities in rural Texas as well as in Mexico,” Ramirez states. “In 1983, I accepted an offer to become the CEO of a start-up in Zapata.  The expectation was that we could grow the bank to $75 to $100 million asset base.  The next 33 years, we grew the bank to over $500 million and earned over $100 million.”

Ramirez has dedicated many years of his life and career to the recognition of Tejanos in our state’s culture and history.  He is one, if not the most, valuable member of the team that made the 12-year journey to build The Tejano Monument on the front lawn of the Texas Capitol grounds a reality in 2012.

In the early 2000s, Ramirez joined the board of the Texas Civil Rights Project, an organization that uses legal advocacy to empower Texas communities and create policy change. He recalls the dismantling of the Texas Youth Commission due to children abuse as one of TCRP’s biggest accomplishments. “That was a good battle,” he said. “Many others, such as family abuse, wage theft, voting rights, abusive law enforcement agents, and many others need to be challenged.”

This year’s 26th Annual Bill of Rights Dinner, TCRP’s major fundraising event that celebrates the accomplishments of the year, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 10. An important component of this annual ceremony is the Renato Ramirez Community Empowerment Award, which recognizes notable members of the private sector for their commitment to community empowerment and a fairer and just society.

The 2016 award recipient is Alamo Drafthouse Founder and CEO Tim League. League and his team at the Alamo Drafthouse partnered with the League of Women Voters and the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant’s office to find new and innovative ways to register voters and encourage civic participation. The initiative included donating space and resources for voter registration and sponsoring a PSA contest for high school students.

Other event special guests will include James C. Harrington Social Justice Award Honoree Burt Neuborne and TCRP Rising Leader Award Honoree Nik Sallie Franklin.

“[TCRP] relies on the good heart of our constituents to get funded,” Ramirez states. “I wish more people would understand that the work of the TCRP is very important to the less fortunate.”

Contact information for Renato:

Renato Ramirez

Chairman of the Board/CEO

IBC-Zapata

Office: 956-765-8361

Cell: 956-251-3224

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VIN SCULLY: GREATEST SPORTSCASTER IN AMERICA

BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ
OCTOBER 2016
For years LA Dodgers baseball games have been a favorite for me to watch on cable television.  But in the first week of this October, when Vin Scully retired as the commentator for the Dodgers’ games on tv and radio, I suddenly realized that Vince’s commentary during the games is what I enjoy most about watching the Dodgers. He always includes great human interest comments about the players and baseball history, as he progresses through every broadcast.
Indeed,he can be called the greatest all-time baseball sportscaster in the history of America! At age 88 now, his retirement age, he has been in sportscasting for 67 years. For the Dodgers he has been commentator 53 years.  Now he will be appearing in person  as part of the Distinguished Speaker series, with all presentations made in the greater Los Angeles geographic area, as listed below.
 
FROM DISTINGUISHED SPEAKER WEBSITE WE LEARN:

Vin Scully

 

vin-scully

Beloved Hall of Fame LA Dodgers Broadcaster

  • Beverly Hills: Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Pasadena: Monday, March 20, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Thousand Oaks: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Redondo Beach: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

Vin Scully is widely regarded as not just one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time, but perhaps the greatest voice in all of sport. Arguably the most popular figure in Southern California, Scully came west with the Dodgers in 1958 and has broadcast their games on radio and television ever since. His unparalleled story telling ability, timing, and mellifluous tones have been a uniting force in a geographically massive region. In 1982 Scully was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame – that was 33 years ago which in and of itself is longer than most broadcasters’ entire careers but less than half of Scully’s. He was named the top sportscaster of the 20th century by the American Sportscasters Association in 2000 among countless other well-deserved awards and honors.

He is now set to retire after he completes his 67th consecutive season as the “Voice of the Dodgers.” and signature introduction to Dodger games: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good day to you, wherever you may be,” will be missed when this season is over.

Scully continues to rewrite the record book of his trade each and every time he goes on the air. The Dodgers were formed 127 years ago in Brooklyn are currently in their 53rd year in Los Angeles with Scully in the booth. He joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond on the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcast team in 1950, one year after graduating from Fordham University. In 1955, Scully had his most memorable moment behind the microphone, as he called the Dodgers’ first and only championship in Brooklyn. At the age of 25, he became the youngest person to ever announce a World Series game.

During his unmatched career, Scully has called three perfect games, 25 no-hitters, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. Iconic moments called by Scully include Kirk Gibson’s miraculous Game 1 home run in the 1988 World Series, Dan Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th home run, Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters (including a perfect game) and the scoreless-innings streaks of Dodgers greats Don Drysdale and Orel Hershiser. In Los Angeles, Scully has called Dodgers World Series championships in 1959, ’63, ’65, ’81 and ’88.

In addition to his legendary career in baseball, Scully has called play-by-play of the National Football League and PGA Tour events on CBS-TV from 1975-82 and play-by-play for Major League Baseball’s Game of the Week, three World Series and four All-Star Games on NBC-TV from 1983-89. Scully also called play-by-play for the World Series on CBS Radio from 1990-97. In all, he has called 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games.

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MARK BALLAS GETS LEAD ROLE IN BROADWAY MUSICAL “JERSEY BOYS”

BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ SEPTEMBER

 

2016 Musical theater productions on Broadway in New York  City are probably the best in the world. And now dancer/singer/actor Mark  Ballas of Houston, will star in the lead role of the last season of “Jersey  Boys,” which has been running on Broadway for 11 years.  The show will  close in January 2017. Mark joins the show this October and will stay till it  closes. By the way, Mark’s  father, Corky Ballas,  now runs a dance studio in San Antonio, Texas. His grandmother, Maria Luisa  Marulanda Ballas, originally was a dancer/teacher in Laredo, Texas around  1950. Maria Luisa went to heaven in 2004 at age 88. I remember seeing Maria  Luisa dance a pachuco boogie dance with her sister Cata, at the Martin High  School gym stage. I was 14 yrs. old then…  From FOX  NEWS LATINO SEPT. 2016 we learn:     Mark Ballas has traded in the ballroom for  Broadway. The longtime “Dancing with the Stars” pro dancer revealed on  social media on Tuesday that he has joined the final cast of “Jersey Boys”  as the Tony Award-winning musical brings down the curtain after 11 years on  Broadway. “I couldn’t be more excited,” the 30-year-old Ballas said in  a short video on Instagram. “This role is an absolute dream come  true.” Ballas, who won the “Dancing with the Stars” mirror ball  twice, will play the title role of Frankie Vallie. The news comes just days after it was revealed that he would  not be returning for season 23 of the hit ABC dancing  show. In a letter to fans he posted on social media, Ballas opened  up about not returning to the show.  “I wanted to hand write this letter to personally thank each  and every one of you for the support over the years. I am incredibly moved +  grateful for all of your messages over the past 24 hours. I know many of you  are concerned + curious. I want to wish my DWTS comrades luck this season.  I’ll miss competing + creating outside the box, however I am looking forward  to this new chapter + venture that is beginning shortly,” he  penned. The letter continued: “I will soon have news for you all on  where you can find me. I hope to see you there.” Ballas, who is of Mexican and Spanish descent on his father’s  side, will make his Broadway debut in the show on Oct.  18. The Broadway show’s producers announced that the musical  based on the career of the rock group the Four Seasons is closing in January  after 11 years. Producers said Tuesday the show will hold its final  performance on Jan. 15 after 4,642 shows at the August Wilson Theatre. It is  the 12th-longest running show in Broadway history. The musical tells the story of Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy  DeVito and Nick Massi and features 20 Four Seasons songs, including  “Sherry,” ”Big Girls Don’t Cry,” ”Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Oh,  What a Night.” It won the Tony for best musical, a Grammy Award for best  cast album and has been seen by over 13 million people across the world and  grossed over $2 billion worldwide. A film adaptation by Clint Eastwood came  out in 2015 but failed to live up to the buzz. The show has in the past few years seen a gradual decline in  ticket sales Last week, it pulled in about $540,000 over eight  performances, a typical haul for the past few months but far less than its  $1,150,000 potential. The last time it broke the $600,000 mark was  April.FROM TOOFAB:

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SPAIN’S PAU GASOL ON NEW ROSTER FOR THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS TEAM

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JULIA VERA SCORES IN NEW DISNEY “PRINCESS ELENA OF AVALOR” TELEVISION SERIES

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BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ
JULY 2016
On July 22, 2016 at 7PM Pacific Time on the Disney Channel you will be watching the Premier of Princess Elena of Avalor television series.
And Laredo’s gift to Hollywood, Julia Vera Andrews, is part of the production, as her voice was used for one of the characters in the series.
Julia explains:
On January 2015 I auditioned for the Voice of Grandma Luisa. On Febuary of 2015 I received a call from my agent telling me that I had the job. I almost fell backwards. So many women from all over had been seen for that role . They next day I received  several scripts with my time schedule .
I presented myself to the sound studio in Burbank, California, and was presented with 4 contracts. Each episode has its own contract . All this was new to me never ever having work on a Voice gig. I do not suffer from nerves and I am always having fun . The welcome was warm and friendly . A young lady asked me if I needed anything, a cup of hot tea. With honey. Yes, thank you that will be wonderful .

I go into the booth and a young man, the engineer, adjusts the mike, the stand for the script and the earphones. I learn as I go. The director says Ready and I answer yes . Give us three readings of the first line with different intentions each one. Okay.

And that was the way it went . In total I have recorded 30 episodes.

One day I get a call from the producer telling me that they are sending Music and Lyrics for a song I am suppose to sing . Okay.


There is a music and voice teacher not too far from my home. I went by there and asked her for help. She was available and we started to work on the Song. For half an hour and for 3 days in a row we worked on the song. Got to the studio and there was this beautiful lady presented to me as the Musical director. She got in the booth with me and we sang together a couple of times. She timed me and she said I was ready . After I finished recording the song for about 5 times. The writer/producer said that when the song goes on the air I am going to get royalties. Say What !

I get the part in The Ridiculous Six movie and I called the producer about my gig and he tells me not to worry that they can work around me. I called them as soon as I got back and they arranged for me to come in and catch up . Nice, very nice people . So easy going and calm .

Last Thursday Disney released the names of the Cast of Princess Elena of Avalor. As Luisa, Julia Vera . My joy was immense.

On July 22, 2016 at 7PM Pacific Time on the Disney Channel you will be watching the Premier of Princess Elena of Avalor television series
.
Princess Elena is the first Latina/Hispanic Princess in all of Disney’s history . Elena is brave and fair . She strong and fearless. She is beautiful of body and spirit . Finally our Latina/Hispanic little girls will have someone they can identified with because Elena looks like them .

 She invites other kingdoms with different traditions and cultures.  Research was done of all the different cultures and traditions enjoyed by the many Latin countries of North, Central and South America. No one is ignored .

Daily I give thanks to God for I truly believe that He grants  me the desires of my heart.

NEO  NOTE: Am I proud of Julia? Imagine my feelings, as I remember her as my dance student at Christen Jr. High School in Laredo, where I started my teaching career when I was 19 years old…

 

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Deaf Dancer Wins Season 22 of “Dancing With The Stars”

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BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ

JUNE   2016

 

Nyle DiMarco has to be one of the most incredible people on earth today.  He is deaf, and on May 24 he won the coveted title of best dancer in Season 22 of “Dancing With The Stars” television spectacular. Every season, in my own mind, I select in the first show of the season who I think is going to win. And I did it again !  Let’s find out more about this unbelievable young artist:

FROM  INQUISTR  WEBSITE:

Nyle DiMarco will have people talking this spring on Dancing With the Stars. Season 22 will feature Nyle along with a bevy of buzzworthy contestants and this is shaping up to be a very competitive group. What do DWTS fans need to know about this new contestant?

Fans of America’s Next Top Model are already familiar with Nyle DiMarco, as he competed on cycle 22 last year and won, notes People. DiMarco is deaf, which will make him the second deaf Dancing With the Stars contestant the show has had. Many will remember that actress Marlee Matlin competed on season 6 with pro Fabian Sanchez. Nyle is partnered with pro Peta Murgatroyd for his spin around the dance floor.

After winning America’s Next Top Model, DiMarco said that he hoped his win would inspire others in the deaf community to pursue the careers they desired, and he indicated that he hoped to further pursue modeling and other entertainment industry gigs after the show. He has appeared in several episodes of the ABC Family show Switched at Birth, and has expressed an interest in tackling other television gigs as well.

The Queens, New York-native comes from a multi-generational deaf family, his website details. Nyle attended Gallaudet University, a liberal arts university in Washington, D.C. for deaf students. In addition to his modeling and acting, DiMarco has done a great deal of advocacy work related to literacy, bullying, and in connection to the deaf community.As Entertainment Tonight shared, Nyle was just the second male winner of America’s Next Top Model across 22 seasons, and he was ultimately the final winner for the show, as that was the last cycle put together. After his win, he said he was intent on breaking more barriers and America’s Next Top Model star Tyra Banks said that DiMarco was beautiful both on the outside and on the inside.

Some Dancing With the Stars fans will surely wonder if Nyle is single or involved with someone. After his win was revealed in December, DiMarco said he was single and focused on his career. Nyle has described his sexuality as “fluid,” and though he had been in a long-term relationship on-and-off for a decade, DiMarco recently indicated that right now he doesn’t feel that he can give a relationship what it needs to succeed.

Nyle has a twin brother named Nico, Bustle notes, and this new Dancing With the Starscontestant says that he has an interest in someday getting a master’s degree and turning to teaching. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and he worked with a developer to create the ASL App that helps teach American Sign Language.

What about DiMarco’s partner on Dancing With the Stars? Peta Murgatroyd had to sit out season 21 due to ankle surgery, but she was a pro in seasons 13 through 20 before that. She won with Donald Driver in her second outing with the show, and came in fourth with James Maslow on his season. Additional partners have included Bachelor Sean Lowe, Tommy Chong, Michael Sam, Brant Daugherty, Metta World Peace, and Gilles Marini. DWTSfans also know that she is now engaged to former pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Val’s brother.

Could Nyles and Peta score the season 22 mirror-ball trophy this spring? It will be a tough competition this time around, as other contestants include football great Doug Flutie, Fuller House star Jodie Sweetin, Good Morning America star Ginger Zee, and a host of others. However, fans of Nyle DiMarco are ready to vote and cannot wait to see how he does with Peta Murgatroyd this spring on Dancing With the Stars.

 

FROM NYLE’S  WEB  BIOGRAPHY:

Nyle DiMarco is an actor, model and spokesman. He is a native New Yorker and was born into a large multigenerational Deaf family. He is an alumni of Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts University in the world for the Deaf. 

Nyle was modeling prior to being selected as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22. As an actor, Nyle’s castings have included: the lead in the independent film In the Can, an ASL Films production and as Garret on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth

Nyle is a signer and creative collaborator on The ASL App(by Ink & Salt), an App created by native Deaf signers to teach conversational American Sign Language (ASL). 

As an honorary spokesman for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-­K), Nyle is passionate about literacy, anti bullying campaigns and advocacy within the Deaf Community. 

Nyle DiMarco is Deaf and uses American Sign Language. American Sign Language requires the use of facial expressions and body movements, his Deafness amplifies his natural talent. His Deafness is an asset and not a limitation, he is amicable and able to communicate easily.  

 

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May 2016

puig_1
     SALLY  RAND
puig_2Sara Puig LAAS
When we were kids, sometimes on Sundays my parents would take us to the Royal movie theater in Laredo. They showed movies in Spanish and sometimes there was a stage show between movie showings. For movies in English, there was the Tivoli movie theater, and that’s all there was of Laredo theaters back then.
A recent email from dear friend Sara Puig Laas, now of Austin, brought back a lot of memories.  She tells us:
 In the 1930’s there was a bubble dancer named Sally Rand who did her strip by popping the balloons she had stuck all over herself— one by one, in tantalizing fashion. She was part of a fundraiser variety show sponsored by Lions or Rotary or something. Anyway, people in Laredo were pretty clueless about Sally Rand — I think they thought she would be BLOWING bubbles — so the Royal theater was full of families who had brought their kids. That included me, at about 5 or 6 years old, sitting in the 4th or 5th row. I remember she wore pink, and I was awestruck. Whatever the parents were all thinking at that point, it was too late to do anything about it, LOL.
Some notes on Sara’s personal/professional history:

Sara Puig Laas is a native Laredoan, the eldest of four children born to Dr. and Mrs. Val Puig, Jr. At Martin High School, she began her long career of interviewing by working for the school paper under the tutelage of a great journalism teacher, Mary Frances Doss. In 1947, Sara and co-editor Claude Villarreal brought back Martin High’s first gold medal in journalism in 1947 from the State UIL Meet in Austin. She later earned a degree in English from the University of Texas.“It has been a life full of adventures,” she says. She and her first husband, Art Ochoa, and sons Arthur, Mark and Phil, moved to Venezuela in 1958. Daughter Claire was born there. “We were there until 1964, through the peak years of Communist turmoil in the Caribbean.”

During the late 1960’s, while Art built an air conditioning business in Laredo, Sara continued honing her interviewing skills by opening an employment agency and also co-hosting a live noon time show on KGNS.

A move to Victoria, TX followed her second marriage in the mid-70’s to Wilburn Laas. There her first job as an interviewer with the Texas Employment Agency (now TWC) was followed by a career as human resources director for a bank. Those years also provided many travel opportunities — China, Canada, Guatemala, Ecuador, the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others.

Retirement in 1993 brought Wilburn and Sara back to a rural area near Austin, where she has been active with the Writers’ League of Texas and interviewed many authors as part of the “Writing Across Texas” TV series. She also interviewed a number of Laredoans for “Border Voices in the Arts” on Laredo’s Public Access TV and on Neo Gutierrez’s programs for that channel. After three wonderful years in Laredo from 2013 through 2015, the couple is back in central Austin preparing for new adventures.

“I’m learning something new,” Sara says, “which is always fun.” By June she hopes to launch her first blog, titled “Who In The Zoo Are You?.com.”

“It’s the book I’ve long wanted to do, based on what I learned over the years about personality types and how to fit people into the best jobs for them. I added it up once, and realized that I have interviewed more than 10,000 people. It’s time to put that knowledge to use to help others find their best path and also learn what motivates them and the other people in their lives. “The ‘Zoo’ is based on nine familiar creatures whose main characteristics we already use a lot in our daily language.

“With a husband, four wonderful children and their spouses, five married grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren to try to keep up with, I decided that blogging one chapter at a time might seem less daunting than trying to finish the entire book at once. It should be fun.”

Now we’ll conclude with some bio notes on Sally Rand, from the Encyclopedia Britanica:
http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2969731328/nm0709491?ref_=nm_ov_ph

Sally Rand, original name Helen Gould Beck (born Jan. 2, 1904, Elkton, Mo., U.S.—died Aug. 31, 1979, Glendora, Calif.) American actress and dancer who achieved fame as a fan dancer and bubble dancer.

Helen Beck entered show business at an early age. Eventually adopting the name Sally Rand (suggested to her, she said, by Cecil B. DeMille), she played in vaudeville and performed as an acrobatic dancer at carnivals and in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus while still in her teens. By the time she was 20, Rand was in Hollywood, where she appeared in a number of films.

With the onset of the Great Depression she was in Chicago. She managed to earn a living by improvising a nude dance routine employing large ostrich-feather fans she had fashioned. Her great opportunity came with the opening in Chicago of the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34: as a publicity stunt she rode a white horse to the fair, “attired” more or less as Lady Godiva. This act won her star billing at the “Streets of Paris” concession on the Fair’s Midway. There, performing a fan dance to such strains as Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Frédéric Chopin’s Waltz in C Sharp Minor,she caused a sensation, launching a career that lasted for more than 30 years. She later created an alternative dance with large five-foot elastic bubbles.

Rand continued to perform until age 74, maintaining a lovely face and trim figure that belied her age.

 

 

 

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FIRST LATINO U.S. POET LAUREATE: JUAN FELIPE HERRERA

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BY DR. NEO   GUTIERREZ
MARCH 2016
Recently I was reminded of an incredible   artistic feat by Juan Felipe Herrera.  He is the only Latino to be U.S.   Poet Laureate, the highest honor possible in that artistic   field.
According to Wikipedia, on the artist’s  background:

Son of farm workers María de la Luz Quintana and Felipe Emilio  Herrera, Juan Felipe Herrera lived from crop to crop and from tractor to trailer  to tents on the roads of the San Joaquín Valley and the Salinas Valley. Herrera  graduated from San Diego High School in 1967 and received the Educational  Opportunity Program scholarship to attend the University of California, Los Angeles[7] where he received his B.A. in Social  Anthropology. Later, he received his Masters in Social Anthropology from  Stanford University, and his Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the  University of Iowa. In 1990, he was a distinguished teaching fellow at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. After serving as chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University, Fresno, in 2005,[8] Herrera joined the Creative Writing  Department at University of California, Riverside, as the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair.[9] He also became director of the Art and  Barbara Culver Center for the Arts, a new multimedia space in downtown  Riverside.

Herrera resides in Redlands, California with his partner  Margarita Robles, a performance artist and poet. He has five  children.

In a  report in June of last year   Colin Dwyer informed us:

Poetry readers, prepare yourselves for a passing of the   laurels. The Library of Congress announced in the wee hours Wednesday that the   next U.S. poet laureate will be California writer Juan Felipe Herrera. He will   be the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position.

“This is a mega-honor for me,” Herrera said in the   announcement, “for my family and my parents who came up north before and after   the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than   me.”

A poet of Chicano descent, the 66-year-old has spent just about   his whole life on the West Coast. Born to a family of migrant farmworkers,   Herrera bounced from tent to trailer for much of his youth in Southern   California, eventually going on to study at UCLA and Stanford. Years later, he   stepped out of the state to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, before — you   guessed it — returning home to California.

His introduction to poetry, however, came much earlier — from   his mother.

“She used to recite   poems kind of spontaneously,” he told NPR’s Audie Cornish. “Something would   move her, and then she would just break into a poem that she remembered from   her childhood. My sister, my grandmother and my mom came up on the train to   Juarez, Chihuahua [Mexico], and then across the border to El Paso, Texas, with   those early rhymes and songs and poems.Along the way, Herrera has been prolific — so prolific, in   fact, that few seem to agree just how many books the man has written.   (Some say 30, others 29, and the Library of Congress says   28. We’ll just put the number at “dozens.”) Those works include poetry   collections, novels in verse and plenty of children’s books. Across this body   of work, the shadow of California, and his cultural heritage, has loomed   large.“I’ve worked throughout California as a poet; in colleges,   universities, worker camps, migrant education offices, continuation high   schools, juvenile halls, prisons, and gifted classrooms,” Herrera told the campus newspaper at the   University of California, Riverside, where he taught creative writing. “I   would say [I’ve been] from San Diego all the way to Arcata and throughout the   valleys … for the last 40 years.”The   role of poet-in-chief isn’t entirely new to Herrera. Beyond his teaching   duties at UC Riverside, he served a two-year stint as California’s poet   laureate, from 2012 to 2014. He’s the first Latino poet to have assumed that   role in the state’s history.
The U.S. poet laureate’s   one-year term doesn’t carry a
lot of prescribed   responsibilities — “the Library keeps
to a minimum [its] specific   duties,” according to the
announcement — but past   laureates have often
embarked on projects to advocate   on behalf of the
form and to widen its audience.   And if there’s
anything to be gleaned from   Herrera’s past, it’s that
Herrera likely will be active in   the new position, too.

In a conversation with the journal Zyzzyva,   Herrera set out a mini-manifesto of sorts for the role of the writer as   teacher.

“These days I think   it is good to be in society — to wake yourself up in the throng and mix of   people on sidewalks, subways and cafeterias — so teaching writing keeps me at   the root of things: new voices, new experiences and new ways of meditating on   life and the planet,” Herrera said. “Both are extremely   essential.”

“Poetry,” he said, in an interview two years earlier with The   Los Angeles Times, “can tell us about what’s going on in our lives, not   only our personal but our social and political lives.”

Herrera is expected to step into the position this fall with   the National Book Festival in September. He will succeed Charles Wright, the   current U.S. poet laureate. No word yet on when they plan to exchange their   poetic licenses.

But, if you’re new to Herrera’s work, don’t just trust me with   your first impression. Below, you’ll find Herrera himself, in a poem excerpted   from his 2008 collection, Half   of the World in Light:

Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings

for Charles Fishman

Before you go further, let     me tell you what a poem brings, first, you     must know the secret, there is no poem to     speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries, yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me     telling you this, instead of going day by     day against the razors, well, the     judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example,     from the outside you think you are being     entertained, when you enter, things     change, you get caught by surprise, your     mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold standing still in the middle of a storm, a     poem, of course, is always open for     business too, except, as you can see, it     isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you     can play, you can even join in on the     gossip—the mist, that is, the mist becomes     central to your existence.

Excerpted     from Half of the World in     Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright     2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted with the permission of the University of     Arizona Press. 

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LAREDO GOLDEN SPURS DANCE TEAM IS PART OF DISNEYLAND HISTORY

BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ
FEBRUARY 2016
While watching on tv  Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary program in mid-February, all of a sudden I remembered–the Laredo Golden Spurs Dance Team are part of Disneyland history!
Back in 1975 the Golden Spurs of Nixon High School, under the brilliant direction of great life-time friend Mrs. Estela Zamora Kramer,  came to Los Angeles to perform for my yearly 5 de mayo FIESTA BEVERLY program at Beverly Hills High School, where I taught for 32 years.
I also arranged for them to perform at a pre-game show at Dodger Stadium, and…to dance at Disneyland! Because of their performance there, they got to see Disneyland for free, of course.  And so came to be that the Laredo dancers became part of Disneyland history.
FROM DISNEYLAND WEBSITE:

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Vibrant fireworks bursting above Sleeping Beauty Castle at the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

All-new nighttime spectaculars, dazzling décor and more… a Diamond Celebration so brilliant, you’ll need more than a day to take it all in.

A boy sitting on his father s shoulders smiles while vibrant fireworks illuminate the evening sky

60 Delightful Years of Disney Magic

Bring family and friends and join us in celebrating the next great era of the Disneyland Resort!Make your way to the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, where Guests of every age are commemorating 60 years of Disney magic with dazzling entertainment and sparkling surprises, including 3 new nighttime spectaculars:

Behold a Timeless World of Wonder
Ever since Disneyland Park opened on July 17, 1955, the Disneyland Resort has been an unforgettable destination for families to return to, again and again—a source of joy for the entire world and a place where innovation has continued to inspire an exciting future.

Throughout the festivities, soak up the sights as iconic jewels you know and love—Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park and Carthay Circle Theatre at Disney California Adventure Park—magically transform, glistening and gleaming with special Diamond Celebration enhancements.

In addition, be sure to treat your senses to the visual feast set all along beloved Disneyland Resort locations like Buena Vista Street and Main Street, U.S.A. Both will be decked out for the occasion with shimmering banners, glittering décor… and so much more.

It’s a celebration so big, one day simply isn’t enough to enjoy everything in store! Be sure to book your reservation at the hotels of the Disneyland Resort today.

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