Far from being all hayseed, the Farmworker Festival last night at the Ontario Theater on Columbia Road NW had a big-city air that was part New York -- those labor benefits on the Lower East Side -- and part Los Angeles -- the fiestas of the Americans of Mexican heritage.
Lalo Delgado, a paunchy poet wearing a poncho with two huge red roses, opened the show with a cascade of post-Ginsberg cliches which he delivered in a jolly singsong with a neat sense of metrics. If his finest moments were musical, those of singer Carmen Moreno were literary. Her husky voice and guitar strumming are pleasant, but what impressed was her own whimsical verse about a tomcat that strays and is threatened with being taken to a vet.
There were two Colorado dance groups. El Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl looked drilled but dry in Indian stomping dances from the Southwest. Mexican quadrilles and zoot-suited jitterbugging brought out the dancers' liveliness. Cleo Parker Robinson's modern troupe stressed tension over flow in pieces based on African and revival themes, and in a mood solo of textbook technique.
As the festival continued into the night, Navaho Indian dancers, bluegrass musicians and a troubador were among those scheduled to appear.