Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart Premieres on PBS
October is Hispanic Heritage Month; PBS joins in the celebration of Hispanic culture with the premiere of Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart as part of Voces on PBS, Friday, October 5, 2012, at 10:00 p.m. (check local listings). The documentary, from filmmakers Robin Rosenthal and Bill Yahraus, follows a group of first-generation Mexican-American women, Las Azaleas, as they compete in rodeos, hoping to represent California and the United States at the National Charro Championships in Mexico. (Charro is a blend of “equestrian skills, handcrafted tack, elegant costumes, music, and foods,” and is a folk tradition.)
Training is rigorous and Las Azaleas must win competitions in the United States to qualify to compete in Mexico. The team is comprised of family members and friends who “perform perilous, precision horse ballets” in synchronized routines at high speed—and sidesaddle. The women dress in elegant suits and colorful, ruffled dresses in a cultural tradition that honors the memory of women soldaderas (known as Adelitas) who—during the Mexican revolution—would ride as decoys to lure the Federales into an ambush.
Las Azaleas, led by Sandy Torres and Maribel Gutiérrez, have won numerous state, regional, and U.S. national championships, training hard while balancing their family lives with their commitment to escaramuza. Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart is an intimate look at the members of Las Azaleas, in which they express their hopes, fears, and love for what is a combination of pageantry and sport. It is also required viewing for aspiring horsewomen.