Photo courtesy of Ballet San Antonio

Ballet San Antonio's Ballet in the Park will feature a free ballet class for children at 6 pm, followed by a performance by the professional dancers of Ballet San Antonio at 7 pm.

Photo courtesy of Shen Yun

Shen Yun

Shen Yun’s unique artistic vision expands theatrical experience into a multi-dimensional, deeply moving journey. Featuring one of the world’s most ancient and richest dance systems - classical Chinese dance- along with dynamic animated backdrops and all-original orchestral works, Shen Yun opens a portal to a civilization of enchanting beauty and enlightening wisdom.

The mission of Shen Yun Performing Arts is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese culture - with its deep spiritual roots and profoundly optimistic worldview - was displaced by communism in China. While Shen Yun cannot perform in China today, it is sharing this precious heritage with the world.

Photo courtesy of the Historic Pearl

San Antonio's Pearl eats, dances, and paints its way through Hispanic Heritage Month

Never-ending Fiestas

San Antonians and visitors are likely to spend at least some of Hispanic Heritage Month at Pearl, the de facto city center for local culture. While the more traditional fiestas rage on elsewhere in the city, Pearl businesses offer modernity from Mexican street food to Latin clothes and home goods year round.

As a way to invite more people into the parts they haven't explored yet, the multi-use community has strung together a month of programming between mid-September and mid-October making sure to represent food, art, and more. Offerings include a kickoff party, a night market, and a collaborative new mural by MMCreative Studio.

"San Antonio's history and deep connection to Mexico is intricately woven into the fabric of our city’s culture,” said Pearl CEO Mesha Millsap in a release. “We invite everyone to join us at Pearl as we celebrate our rich heritage with the food, music, art, and culture for which our city is known.”

Pearl visitors should keep an eye out for the following activations:

  • September 12-13 — The Culinary Institute of America’s Latin American Cuisine Summit: Foodservice, culinary, and beverage professionals gather for demonstrations and discussions. These will focus on how food and culture intersect with local sourcing and traditional techniques.
  • September 16 — Viva Dieciséis at Pearl: The community celebrates Mexico's Independence Day with live music, a grito contest, and kids' activities like Lotería and guitar painting. Musical performances include ballet folklórico and mariachi.
  • Wednesdays starting September 20 — Mercadito Cultural: Pearl retailers show their wares while chefs, artisans, and artists bring it all to life with live demos and performances. These include weekly performances by Mariachi Las Alteñas.
  • September 23 and 30 — The Culinary Institute of America’s Wine Exploration Classes: The famous culinary school leads wine-lovers through Mexican and South American vintages in their respective classes.
  • Sundays, September 24 to October 8 — Vamos a Bailar with Esta Noche Dance Company: The dance company offers bachata and salsa classes for all levels, whether guests have a parter or are dancing solo. Even guests who don't want to dance are invited to sit in and listen.
  • Various dates — Calavera and Alebrije Collection: The neighborhood hosts two alebrijes and four calaveras — all large-scale— from the private collection of Chef Johnny Hernandez and La Gloria. The calaveras were created in partnership with local artists.

Food and drink specials will also pop up at various restaurants and bars throughout the neighborhood. Special menus, prices, and performances are on offer at Cured (chiles en nogada dinner), Carriqui (margarita deals and spirit tastings), Boiler House (tastings and a tequila dinner), Botika (spicy pineapple frozen margaritas and tequenhos), Hotel Emma (six-course dinner), and Local Coffee (horchata deals).

There's much to keep track of, but every day at Pearl is an adventure. Keep track of its many offerings via atpearl.com or on social media.

Photo courtesy of Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents Celebrando Tradiciones

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center will present Celebrando Tradiciones, a celebration of culture through traditional Mexican dance by the Guadalupe Dance Company and music by Mariachi Azteca de América.

The performance will be one of the last opportunities to watch a live Folklorico performance in the Guadalupe Theater at its present brilliance before undergoing renovation.

Photo by Mark Williams on Unsplash

San Antonians prepare their gritos for 2023's month-long Fiestas Patrias

Feeling Festive

Hispanic Heritage Month is nearly upon us, and one City of San Antonio group can't and won't wait to celebrate it. The Diez y Seis de Septiembre Commission is getting San Antonians prepped early for its month-long festivities, Fiestas Patrias, which will include a parade, film screenings, dancing, and more from September 8 to October 15.

Although the commemorative month technically starts on September 15, this series kicks off with the opening of a photo exhibition on September 8. San Antonio local Jorge Sandoval looks back on his 45-year career in photography, which he spent dedicated to preserving Chicano Art, according to the official event listing. This exhibition will prime locals not just for a month of Hispanic pride, but pride in the Alamo City, which shows up in different ways across the curated works.

The next events mark the real start of the month as well as Mexican Independence Day, which gives the commission its name — September 16.

The Consulate General of Mexico in San Antonio will host a civic event at Historic Market Square on September 15, called "El Grito" after the battle cry of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla that sparked the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. There will be live Mexican music, folkloric dancers, and food and craft vendors.

The next day — the day el grito really happened — a parade kicks off a couple of multi-day events. This is the 42nd year for the parade, which begins at the corner of Brazos Street and Guadalupe Street. The route doubles as a tour through San Antonio’s historic Mexican American district. Spectators are invited to bring chairs and shade to El Parian and Plaza Guadalupe. Organizers know the heat is not ideal for the parade, so this year it'll start at 9 am.

After the parade, partiers can head to the main event series at Historic Market Square. The League of United Latin American Citizens Council 648 (LULAC) hosts a weekend of mariachi and more folkloric dance, antojitos, and crafts. That Saturday also marks the beginning of URBAN-15’s "Accion!" virtual film screenings, which features the work of 15 filmmakers 21 years old or younger from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, Columbia, Argentina, Chile, Spain, and the U.S.

Other events for the remainder of Fiestas Patrias 2023:

  • September 17: US Mint-Smithsonian Jovita Idár Quarter Celebration at Historic Market Square
  • September 23-24: Mezclas Acústicas at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center
  • September 30: Diez y Seis Mariachi Festival at La Villita Historic Arts Village
  • October 13: Celebrando Tradiciones – Cuentos, Bailes y Música at the Guadalupe Theater
  • October 14: 6th Annual Fiesta Alegria takes place online
  • October 14-15: San Antonio Charro Association Anniversary Charreada takes place at Padre Park

No matter which event or when it's held, each carries significance about Mexico's Day of Independence. The volunteer commission instills lessons among each opportunity to have a good time, in the hopes that the historic victory is remembered.

A full list of Fiestas Patrias events is available at getcreativesanantonio.com. Most are family-friendly and free.

Photo courtesy of Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Live entertainment is taking center stage at various venues across Alamo City and we’ve got the scoop on all of the action. Groove to the music of Daryl Hall with special guest Todd Rundgren, or enjoy an evening of flamenco at the Historic Guadalupe Theater. For a complete list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, August 10

Charline McCombs Empire Theatre presents The Juno Show
The story of Juno Birch, an alien drag queen, comes to life as a one-woman show on the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre stage. Audiences can expect a fun and bizarre journey through Juno’s many adventures with the help of slapstick songs and dancing along with her plastic puppet daughter. Tickets are available at majesticempire.com.

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club presents Steve Byrne
Comedy Central legend and stand-up comedian Steve Byrne comes to the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club for a three-day stint of live shows. Byrne is known for his specials for Comedy Central, Showtime, and Netflix, and has recently released his fifth special, The Neon Disease. Buy table seats at improvtx.com.

Stryper in concert with Vixen
Christian metal band Stryper comes to The Espee for an evening of electrical worship through music. The "heavenly metal" group known for over-the-top stage looks comes to San Antonio in support of their 2022 album, The Final Battle. They will be joined by special guest Vixen. Go to theespee.com for tickets.

Friday, August 11

Daryl Hall and the Daryl's House Band in concert
Majestic Theatre welcomes Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates) and the house band from his famous restaurant and venue to the stage for one night only. Fans can expect music from Hall’s 2022 compilation album, BeforeAfter. Prolific rock songwriter, producer, and performer Todd Rundgren joins the bill as a special guest. Get tickets at majesticempire.com.

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents Celebrando Tradiciones: Espíritu Flamenco
Experience a special evening celebrating the art and beauty of flamenco at the Historic Guadalupe Theater. This production features a performance by the Guadalupe Dance Company with accompanying music by Flamenco guitarist Steve Arispe, percussionist Edwardo Rios, and San Antonio cantaora (singer) Chayito Champion. Get more information and purchase tickets at guadalupe2023.eventive.org.

Sunday, August 13

Celebrando Tradiciones: Esp\u00edritu Flamenco
Photo courtesy of Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

See Espíritu Flamenco on August 11.

Lighthouse Artspace presents Disney Animation: Immersive Experience
Transport yourself into the cinematic wonderland of Walt Disney Animation Studios one final time at this special Lighthouse Artspace activation. Visitors can literally step into the art of films like Encanto, Zootopia, The Little Mermaid, Big Hero 6, Frozen, and more with the help of advanced projection and multimedia effects. Go to lighthouseimmersive.com for tickets and more details.

Darren Knight: Southern Momma & Friends Comedy Tour
Rising star comedian Darren Knight makes a stop in San Antonio as part of his nationwide tour. The Alabama-based entertainer rose to fame by way of his viral content, featuring his popular character, “Southern Momma.” Texans may feel a little skewered, but Knight soaked up that Southern energy in his home state of Alabama. Get more details on Ticketmaster.

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10 San Antonio chefs go head-to-head in gourmet Burger Showdown

Burger Beasts

San Antonians can argue with friends all day about who has the best burger in town, but nothing lands quite like a head-to-head live victory.

This October, 10 San Antonio chefs are battling for those bragging rights at the Burger Showdown 4.0 — the numeral representing the competition's fourth year running. Hosted by cooking video series Homegrown Chef and Alamo Beer, the event will set all the chefs up under the Hays Street Bridge to serve up their best creations, so San Antonians can make the final call.

If eating 10 sliders seems excessive, think of it as a public service. Not only are visitors selecting the best burger (basically citizen science), but funds raised will benefit the San Antonio Food Bank.

This is the first year that the competition will be judged by a panel alongside the usual fan voters. There will be three judges: Great Day SA reporter Clark Finney; Edible San Antonio co-publisher Ralph Yznaga; and San Antonio Food Bank's director of food sustainability Mitch Hagney.

"The Burger Showdown is always such a great community event and a really fun way to celebrate our incredible chefs while getting out and trying something new and absolutely delicious," said Homegrown Chef founder and local food writer Kimberly Suta, who helped organize the event, in a release. "I like to challenge people to eat all the burgers because it's never been done!"

Chefs plan to bring the following burgers:

  • Chef Joseph Thadeus Martinez of Tributary (last year's 1st place winner) — "The French Onion Burger," featuring a Dean and Peeler smash patty, black pearl onion aioli, gruyere fonduta, and crispy shallots on a sourdough potato slider bun.
  • Chef James Richard Smith of toohotfortabc (last year's 2nd place winner) — "The Blue Mountain Smash Burger," featuring "sweet heat," bacon jam, and veggies on a Far West Texas Cattle Co. smashed beef patty with melted American cheese on a sourdough bun.
  • Chef Diana Anderson of JD's Chili Parlor (last year's 3rd place winner) — "The Italian Job," featuring tomato-basil pasta sauce, white wine and garlic-marinated beef, buffalo mozzarella, zucchini, red onion, and romaine hearts skewered with fried mushrooms and cherry tomatoes.
  • Chef Justin Bluhm of STXBBQ — "The Oktoberfest Burger," inspired by beer, meat, cheese and pretzels. It features a beef patty with sliced brisket, house-pickled onions, and smoked beer queso on a soft pretzel bun.
  • Chef Joshua Calderon of Catering by JC — "The Backyard Barbecue Burger," featuring a beef patty, cheddar cheese, onion, cucumber, and iceberg lettuce on a potato roll.
  • Chef Stephen Chavez of FredericksBurgers — "The Bacon Huebner Burger," featuring bacon, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese on a beef patty.
  • Chef Francisco Estrada of Naco — "The Aztec God Burger," featuring black garlic-seasoned beef, epazote aioli, caramelized onions, and huitlacoche.
  • Chef Greg Ferris of Bobbie’s Cafe — "The Texas Tailgate Burger," featuring a beef patty, American cheese, barbecue chips, and a mysterious "'go big or go home' twist."
  • Chef Kaius of The Kaius Experience — "The Texan Black Gold Burger" featuring a beef patty seasoned with Texan spices, topped with aged cheddar cheese, black garlic aioli, roasted jalapeño bacon, and crispy truffle sweet potato sticks, served on a brioche bun.
  • Chef Braunda Smith of Lucy Cooper’s Ice House — The release says, "This Food Network star is known for her burgers and will tell you she can make a burger out of absolutely anything, which is why she wants to surprise you!"

All burgers except those made by last year's first and second-place winners will be made pasture-raised Akaushi beef from local rancher 529meats. Ben E. Keith & Food Related will provide some toppings.

Tickets ($55) to the Burger Showdown 4.0 are available via Eventbrite. Only 25 VIP tickets ($75) will be sold; these guests will be welcomed 30 minutes early and will receive one drink ticket. Email homegrownchefsa@gmail.com, or text or call (210) 725-2339 to order.

Country icon Willie Nelson returns to traditional 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album

The Red Headed Stranger goes Blue

Almost as much as Willie Nelson is known for Austin, he's known for Nashville — and for subverting it. The 90-year-old singer has made an iconic, and extremely long career of conforming to and bucking against musical expectations, and now he's circled back around to tradition — without losing his own sound.

Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre. Yet, released on September 15, it's not even his first album of 2023. It follows I Don't Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard, a tribute to the Nashville songwriter who gave folks "I Fall to Pieces."

Bluegrass, in a way, is Nelson's genre-bent tribute to his own work. The setlist gathers a dozen of the songwriter and his fans' "favorite" songs he wrote, according to a press release, re-rendered with a bluegrass ensemble.

The focus on orchestration highlights that this is a collaborative effort by the amiable, but largely solo performer. One song, "Good Hearted Woman," is the only track on the album not just written by Nelson, thanks to the similar creative genius of outlaw country great Waylon Jennings. Willie's son, Micah Nelson, created the cover art: an appropriately blue portrait of the singer with warm undertones and a wreath of familiar recreational leaves. The album was produced by Willie's longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

Willie Nelson BluegrassNelson's son created the cover art — in blue, of course.Image courtesy of Willie Nelson; created by Micah Nelson

Even if a listener doesn't recognize each song on the album, Nelson's voice is as unmistakeable as ever. Against a bluegrass arrangement, it floats undisturbed and unhurried. At times, it even sounds like Nelson and the band are performing in different meters, the band bustling along cheerfully while the singer lounges around the beat — but never on it.

In fact, listeners who avoid Bluegrass may find their tune changes when listening to these laid-back renditions. "Still Is Still Moving To Me" brings the more frenetic tempo and multi-part harmonies that the genre is known for at its most ferocious; but iconic songs like "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Yesterday's Wine" may not even strike listeners as bluegrass if they're not listening for it — just very string-heavy traditional country tunes.

"On the Road Again," "Man With the Blues," and album-opener "No Love Around" are perhaps the tracks that benefit the most from the Bluegrass treatment. All three seem a little more cheerful, a little more upbeat, and a little more reassuring than their original forms. There's nothing warmer than hearing the iconic "On the Road Again" melody on gut strings — except perhaps listening to the country legend offer his "advice" over that plucky, self-assured backcountry orchestra.

Most important, the arrangements rework rather than rewriting the songs. None of the renditions give off an air of hokeyness or trying to shake things up; These are just great country songs that sound even better with a banjo. It makes sense that the change in instrumentation wouldn't shift much, since according to the release, Nelson decided to record the tribute because the style informed so much of his natural songwriting style.

"Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs," acknowledges the release.

By Texas Monthly'scount (shared in the release), this is Nelson's 151st album. Avid collectors can look forward to a 12-inch special edition pressed in blue vinyl, available for purchase on September 29. Preorder ($29.98) at willienelson.com.

This year the songwriter was honored with a five-part documentary series, a blowout 90th birthday concert, the naming of a prestigious arts endowment by the University of Texas at Austin, and two Grammy Awards. His book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, comes out October 23. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame days later, on November 3.

Listen to Bluegrass on your favorite streaming platform. More information is available at willienelson.com.

Cassandro wrestles with lucha libre and homophobia in real-life story

Movie Review

The LGBTQ community and the sports world have long had an uneasy relationship, especially in the United States. There are exceedingly few out male athletes around the world compared to the number of players total, and even though the world has progressed in significant ways, that statistic doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

Although some don’t view professional wrestling as a sport, the culture around it is certainly testosterone-heavy, an idea that’s challenged in the new film, Cassandro. Saúl (Gael Garcia Bernal) lives in El Paso, but regularly crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico to participate in lucha libre matches. On the small side, he’s regularly cast as the runt, who never stands a chance at winning.

Openly gay, Saúl decides to change his wrestling persona to be an “exótico,” allowing him to express himself in a flamboyant manner. With the new wrestling name of Cassandro, Saúl starts to gain the notice of promoters and fans. At the same time, he wrestles with personal issues, including the strained life of his single mother, Yocasta (Perla De La Rosa) and an affair he’s having with a fellow luchador, Gerardo (Raúl Castillo).

Written and directed by Roger Ross Williams and co-written by David Teague, the film has a solidly-told story featuring a mixture of good performances, even if it feels like there’s something missing. The movie has all the hallmarks of an underdog story, and while it hits some of expected signposts along the way, it also strangely seems to hold back in certain aspects.

If you’re not already familiar with the lucha libre culture, the film doesn’t make it easy to get a handle on it. As in all pro wrestling, the matches aren’t “real,” but how and when the wrestlers decide how to perform and who will “win” feels confusing in the context of the film. It’s clear that the confidence Saúl shows as Cassandro makes him more appealing, but the intricacies of lucha libre could have been expounded on a bit more.

This becomes even more evident when fans are shown yelling gay slurs at him and other exóticos. There seems to be a contradictory performativeness to the antagonism, as those same fans soon start supporting him. Oddly, any other explicit homophobia is kept hidden, which - given the time period (the 1980s and ‘90s) and the machismo prevalent in Mexican culture - seems like the filmmakers made a conscious choice to not go down that road.

That and other decisions leave the film a bit flat emotionally. Saúl/Cassandro goes through a lot of upheaval in the film, and while the majority of it is engaging, there isn't a point where the story fully captures your heart. As with other areas, if the filmmakers had pushed just 10 percent harder, it would’ve turned the film from good to great.

Bernal turns in a fantastic performance, despite the fact that, even though he looks younger than he is, he’s a little old to be playing this particular character. Still, he has a charm and athleticism that makes him believable throughout. Good in supporting roles are Castillo (playing a similar role he did in The Inspection) and Roberta Colindrez as Saúl’s trainer. Keep an eye out for Bad Bunny in a small but interesting role.

There’s a lot to like about Cassandro, the story that’s being told, and the performances it contains. But by choosing not to explore certain parts of the story as much as they could have, the filmmakers left a lot of emotion out of it.


Cassandro is now playing in select theaters. It debuts on Prime Video on September 22.

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro

Photo courtesy of Prime Video

Gael Garcia Bernal in Cassandro.