Plunge into 2017 (brrr!). Honor a Native tradition. Marvel at the stars above—and the ones onstage. Expand your musical range. Release your inner superhero.
Above: The Predator draws fans at last year's Albuquerque Comic Con.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: AARON ANGLIN
NIPPY NEW YEAR
Nothing like a brisk beginning. Dive into Sugarite Canyon State Park’s annual Polar Bear Plunge, January 1, at 1 p.m. The shores of Lake Maloya, near Ratón, will be dotted with at least a few brave souls looking to get a frosty jump on 2017 by wading into the wintry waters. Your reward for taking part? A T-shirt, a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and, best of all, the story you get to tell your co-workers later that week. (575) 445-5607; ratonrecreation.com
On January 1, New Mexico pueblos pause for the Transfer of the Canes, a solemn ceremony during which ebony canes with silver crowns are handed from outgoing officials to incoming leaders. The canes symbolize Native sovereignty and are said to carry the holy imagery of Moses’ staff. In the 1600s and 1800s, Spanish and Mexican rulers gave such canes to demonstrate the pueblos’ continued authority under other governments. In 1864, President Lincoln presented the silver-topped canes to each pueblo, marking a similar recognition. While the ceremonies aren’t open to the public, they are often followed by dances that are. In addition, on January 6, most pueblos hold public King’s Day celebrations, which also honor the new tribal officers. Sandia Pueblo, for example, invites visitors to join a morning Catholic Mass with traditional dances afterwards. Start with the feast-day listings on indianpueblo.org, then check with individual pueblos for further details. Remember: Even if you’re welcome, your camera is not.
Every January, young stars (collectively known as the Pleiades) make a scene in the sky among some old favorites, including Orion and Taurus. Such heavenly occurrences are celebrated around the state. Gaze up during AstroFriday at San Juan College Planetarium in Farmington, January 6 (505-566-3361; nmmag.us/AstroFriday). And take a tour of the Very Large Array near Magdalena, followed by guided night-sky telescope viewing at New Mexico Tech’s Etscorn Observatory in Socorro on January 7. (575) 835-7410; nmmag.us/vla-tour
ENTER, STAGE RIGHT
Grab the kids and head to Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, January 12–15, when author Roald Dahl’s telekinetic tot, Matilda, comes to town. This musical version of the fondly remembered Mara Wilson–Danny DeVito film has earned accolades galore, including seven Olivier Awards. No one, it seems, can resist a story built on such salubrious lines as “Books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” (877) 664-8661; nmmag.us/popejoy17
The Las Cruces Community Theater presents Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the late Edward Albee’s Tony-winning play about a tragic marriage and the web of lies and heartache surrounding the couple’s mournful secret, January 20–February 5. (575) 523-1200; lcctnm.org
THE GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
Don your cape and zip up your boots: It’s time for Albuquerque Comic Con, January 13–15 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. What started as a small gathering of like-minded fans at a tiny hotel has grown into a community celebration of all sorts of geekery. About 70 percent of the 40,000 people who walk through the doors will do so in costume, which produces some of the best people watching of the year. (The more elaborate and artistic costumes are worth between $5,000 and $20,000.) Connections are forged amid merriment with actors and illustrators who have made significant contributions to the wider canon, including sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and video games. Fans can meet Sons of Anarchy star John Hurst, brooding Deadpool teen Brianna Hildebrand, actor and John Hughes fixture John Kapelos, original Red Power Ranger Austin St. John, Clerks alum Marilyn Ghigliotti, actress and heavy-metal “It” girl Tawny Kitaen, and George Pérez, the illustrator behind some of the coolest comics scenes in recent memory. Dozens of illustrators will sign their work, sell originals and commissions, and talk comics. albuquerquecomiccon.com
For a remarkable sonic fusion that explores the possibilities of the human voice, consider Roomful of Teeth. These vocalists provide a polyphonic experience through myriad techniques, including unique versions of yodeling and throat singing. Founding member Caroline Shaw received a 2013 Pulitzer for Partita for 8 Voices, included in the group’s Grammy-winning album. Even Kanye’s a big fan. Expect their joyful sound to resonate off the ceiling and throughout St. Francis Cathedral when the master collaborators visit Santa Fe on January 21. (505) 984-8759; performance-santafe.org
NEW MEX NEW AGE
The organically ethereal vocals of Native—and native New Mexican—multi-instrumentalist and storyteller Randy Granger grace the historic Rio Grande Theatre in Las Cruces on January 21. (575) 523-6403; riograndetheatre.com.
In the mid-1600s, Spanish painter Diego Velázquez brought intimacy and life to his famed portraits of Philip IV’s “buffoons,” the social outsiders who were often purchased to amuse a royal court oblivious to basic principles of human dignity. The group included jesters, calabacitas (or “squashes,” an epithet for people with mental disabilities), and “royal dwarfs.”
Six of these stories come to the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, woven into an original opera, Los Bufones, presented in Spanish with English supertitles, January 19–22. The music and libretto were written by Santa Fe’s own Ron Strauss. “Not many painters have inspired me musically, but the humanity in his paintings spoke to me,” Strauss says. Discovering more about the people behind the portraits—“their spirits, their souls, their feelings”—moved him, he says. Each of the vocalists in the production found his or her way to the work in an organic, non-audition process, which Strauss calls serendipitous. Together, they bring a similar sense of respect and shared humanity to the portraits’ subjects. (505) 724-4771; ronstraussmusic.com/los-bufones
STEPPING IT UP
Irish, tap, and Canadian step dancing burst forth during the high-energy performances of The StepCrew, whose shows combine fancy footwork, world-class fiddling, and Celtic music. See them January 30 at Tydings Auditorium in Hobbs and January 31 at the Marshall Auditorium in Clovis. (575) 738-1041; swsymphony.org/schedule.php
On January 29, celebrated folk-pop guitarist Pavlo brings his Greco-Latin fusion to the Spencer Theater in Alto. Nicknamed “Lord of the Strings”—does that make him a Greek god?—Pavlo has traveled the world, recording his own award-winning music and supporting the likes of José Feliciano. (888) 818-7872; nmmag.us/Spencer-Pavlo
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