The luxury hotel will send you to the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the city’s historic center to see Ballet Folklórico de México. But you won’t merely get to watch one of the country’s preeminent dance companies perform — you will meet the artistic director and dancers beforehand, watch last-minute rehearsing, peek at a room full of beautiful costumes and even twirl around with the performers.
The VIP Dance Experience
While “ballet” is in the company’s name, don’t expect dancers in tutus and pointe shoes. When the theater’s one-of-a-kind Tiffany stained-glass curtain depicting volcanoes in the Valley of Mexico rises, Ballet Folklórico performers rush out in flouncy skirts saturated in vivid colors accompanied by live mariachis and a choir.
Founded in 1952 by choreographer and dancer Amalia Hernández, Ballet Folklórico is a national treasure, taking regional Mexican folklore and interpreting this cultural legacy through classic and modern dance. While choreographing her works — she created more than 80 pieces for the troupe — Hernández researched each area’s heritage, including its history, mythology, traditions, music, religions and more and poured it all on the stage.
Hernández died in 2000, but her dedication to expressing the vibrancy of the country’s tapestry of folkloric traditions through dance still drives the company. “We have so much to fight for and to be amazed by in our history,” said Viviana Basanta Hernández, Amalia’s daughter and Ballet Folklórico’s artistic director.
You can see that heritage in pieces like “Charreada,” a rope-slinging ode to charrería, the art of livestock herding on old Mexican farms that’s so important that it was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. It’s also on full display in “The Deer Dance,” a more modern work that demonstrates the graceful agility of the prey as a pre-hunting ritual in the state of Sonora. Each piece is rousing and inspiring — a unique way to get a hint of the vast diversity of Mexico’s cultures.
As part of the JW’s excursion, you can attend the pre-show rehearsal, where dancers narrow their eyes and furrow their brows as they mark the steps. During the performance, they transform. They put on their stage faces with broad smiles and engaging eyes, making everything look effortless.
“It’s a timeless company,” Daniel Villareal, a 24-year-old soloist from Los Angeles, said during the VIP meet-and-greet. “The choreography still excites people, and it’s pleasing to the eye. People will fall in love with Mexico for at least one-and-a-half hours.”
Another dancer, Mexico City native Sofia Larrañaga, has her own way besides endless rehearsals to ensure she’s ready for the stage. Before she goes on, she makes the sign of the cross, kisses her fingers, touches the floor and then hugs herself. It’s her pre-show ritual for good luck. She said the classical dancing is challenging, but she loves it nonetheless. “It has a lot of magic.”
You get to see that magic through the talented, regal dancers on stage, but as a VIP, you experience it up close. During the production, performers will suddenly appear before your strategically assigned mezzanine seat and politely and wordlessly invite you to dance to a spirited number.
The VIP Art Experience
While attending the show, you’ll also marvel at the dance troupe’s home, the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Mexico’s leading fine arts institution since opening in 1934, it also houses murals from some of the nation’s seminal artists.
Let the JW Marriott organize an art tour and you’ll get an expert guide who will tell you about the striking art nouveau domed white exterior and the grand art deco interiors. You will learn tidbits like how the marble inside, covering everything from the floors to the columns, comes from different areas of Mexico, which is why it’s in various colors.
But the main attraction in the first museum made for the Mexican public is the murals, many of which have openly political themes. Diego Rivera’s Man, Controller of the Universe is a re-creation of an original at Rockefeller Center in New York, which was destroyed due to its controversial anti-capitalist message. The packed painting depicts a blond man unsure of himself as he sits behind the controls directing science, industry and society.
David Alfaro Siqueiros’ New Democracy reveals the human spoils of war. In the post-WWII triptych, lady democracy triumphantly but agonizingly breaks through her shackles surrounded by tortured and dismembered countrymen.
Our guide was passionate about the art, highlighting the symbolism and nuance layered in these masterworks. It made us want to see more from the Mexican muralists.
The Hotel Experience
Of course, if you want access to these exclusive experiences, you must be a guest of the Polanco hotel. Opened in 1996 as the first JW outside the United States, the property recently unveiled an extensive renovation that transformed the dark, traditional lobby and public areas into light, contemporary and airy spaces. The renovation included the debut of SENDERO Polanco, a mural-emblazoned restaurant that takes a contemporary approach to Mexican gastronomy; ESTACION 29, a chic cocktail bar; and TAHONA Mezcal Room, where you can have intimate tastings for up to eight. We enjoyed trying handcrafted mezcals alongside the Mexican distillers who made them.
If you want a tasting for a larger group, opt to have it in the spacious 26th-floor Presidential Suite, where you can sip smoky mezcal while watching the sun dip behind the mountains. The stylish suite’s expansive dining room table and kitchen make adding a private meal to the experience easy. A hotel chef can come and cook up a multi-course menu right in the suite.
Stay tuned for more restaurant openings. The hotel plans to welcome ARCHIEBALD Steak Home and CORSI Pasta & Seafood Centric in the spring.
These updates follow the property’s 2023 revamp that gave the 314 accommodations a soothing slate blue, cream and gray color scheme, and residential touches, like wood floors and, in some suites, banquettes overlooking views of the city skyline and the National Auditorium across the street.
A feature that hasn’t changed is the outdoor pool deck. The JW is one of the few luxury hotels in Mexico City to have one. It’s a quiet escape — especially in the early morning — where you can sit in a hanging chair amid bamboo or take a paddleboard yoga class. This deck is open to all guests, but it still feels exclusive.
Stay tuned for our 2024 Star Awards announcement on February 7.