she wears bells, operetta, to run at Teatro Palo Alto, October 22 – 30, 2020

Written by jo reyes-boitel * Directed by Amber Ortega

Special guest musician Ceiba ili.

Cast of Teatro Palo Alto: Meena Herrera (Coyolxauhqui), Nicholas Ramirez (Coatlicue), and Ashley Flores (Yolottitzin).

she wears bells follows the story of the Aztec teotl Coyolxauhqui, who has lost her battle on Earth and is exiled to the moon. Is she dead or can she transform in order to claim a new legacy?

This event is FREE. Watch performances via livestream on Facebook or YouTube. For more information

With thanks to Joaquin “Muerte” Abrego for his contributions to the stage and script development, and to Anel Flores, who will be leading a Q&A after the performances on Saturday, October 24 and Friday, October 30.

An advance article by the Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus paper, The Mesquite, is available here.

Altar-ing zine

San Antonio treasure Bonnie Ilza Cisneros crafted the Altar-ing: A Latinx Memoir Workshop that was to have culminated, through a series of workshops, in an exhibit. COVID happened. But Bonnie, the San Antonio Public Library (and Emma Hernandez), and the workshopistas weren’t dismayed. The last class moved online and we were gifted with the opportunity to find new ways to build an altar honoring our antepasados as much as our writing/creative process.

It was a challenge to take a small moment in the busyness of a time when work at home has benefits but requires payment. And sometimes I let the anger and frustration of a life get in the way of the knowing I carry that assures me I am supported. And in some of the quiet days of my child’s return to school and my work changing and my own emotions taking me, I find the root in how much I was loved by my grandfather, Adalberto S. Boitel. He filled his life with baseball on the television, cooking everything expertly, and writing letters to his family and friends in Cuba. His kitchen table always had paper, pens, envelopes and stamps. I mimicked his handwriting. It’s what’s made my handwriting unique. The paper he always had available made distant friends feel close. He’s been gone for a long time now. I hadn’t intended to create an altar based on his writing but, in all my feelings, it is what came through.

I needed this workshop at a time when I felt so distant. And I’m glad we created our work in a communal setting. Now, we have a wonderful zine that was just produced and I’m honored to be in such good company.

Pick up your copy here.

she wears bells cast + crew

These are some talented folx! Join all of us at the she wears bells premiere June 26 & 27, 2020.

JMA photoJoaquin “Muerte” Abrego (Percussion, Chorus), born in the barrio of San Felipe in Del Rio, began his professional music career 16 years ago in San Antonio as a street performer playing percussion and guitar. He has been playing music since he was a child and is a founding member of three local bands that compose original music: Los Nahuatlatos, Eddie and the Valiants and the San Antunes. Joaquin is creator of the Xicanx Versus Aliens podcast, available on Anchor and other platforms. He is also a traditional Danzante conchero, whose roots go back to pre-Hispanic America. He is a community health worker and community organizer in poor communities of color. Joaquin’s many other titles include chef, gardener, father, and husband.


Giomara Bazaldua (Choreographer, Actor) is director of Zombie Bazaar Panza Fusion, a local queer-based dance troupe fusing elements of cumbia, ballet folklorico, polka, and, of course, fire dance, to produce work to produce work centered on social issues like LGBTQIA rights, immigration, and women’s freedom. Gio is also the artistic director and creator of San Antonio’s only all Latinx drag king troupe, Los MENtirosos, which has been charming the city while creating space beyond the city’s gayborhood, where king representation has been nonexistent. Her character, Sir Gio, won Mister Pride San Anto (2019), scoring highest overall in all categories – fierce!

J Hawkins 2Jess Hawkins (Production Lead) is a silent but powerful force of nature, supporting and creating art and activism in San Antonio and beyond. As the voice of Los MENtirosos, San Antonio’s only Latinx drag king troupe, Jess transforms into Gacho Marx, a San Anto fresa who respects his father, idolizes his mother, and loves his hair.

b hurtadoBarbie Hurtado (Technical Development) is a fat queer chicanx activist and organizer who works with the San Antonio International Woman’s Day March, and Planned Parenthood. They are passionate about serving their community and are constantly learning, evolving, and growing. Barbie believes in sharing arte y cultura with their community as a teatrista and cultural worker. They write about las dolencias y alegrias de la vida but do not call themselves a writer. Barbie can be found around town leading chants on a megaphone, playing the jarana with Son Queers, or transforming into their alter ego Pancho Panza and dancing to Juan Gabriel.

JoyousJoyous Windrider Jiménez (Director, Video Editor) is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and mother of one son. A San Antonio native, Joy spent nearly a decade abroad, where she helped diverse minority groups tell their stories. Since her return in 2009 she has presented her poetry, theatre, and visual art pieces in venues around the city. Joy has facilitated the production of over 50 original plays created by and for San Antonio youth. She currently teaches for Gemini Ink and The Magik Theatre. Joy is also the co-founder of Raise The Whisper, a writing and art collective for those affected by family rape and ceibasexual abuse.

Ceiba ili (Flutes, Chorus) is Maya Lenca from Honduras. With a blend of traditional indigenous sounds and canto, Ceiba brings the migration stories to the forefront of her music and teaches about the importance of empowerment through cultural memory. Her performances educate and empower communities to remember their roots and their right to migration.

Jaime RamirezJaime Ramirez (Composer, Musical Director) is a San Antonio-based music director, composer, and pianist with a BA in Music from UTSA whose work has largely been in theater and circus worlds. He was Resident Music Director at The Magik Children’s Theatre (2000-2007) and continues to direct throughout the city. To date he has scored seven professional theatrical productions and been awarded ATAC awards for Best Original Scores (2010, 2011) and Best Music Direction (2016, 2017). Jaime also toured as lead keyboardist for Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus (2007-2010).

Jaime’s’s debut solo album, “underscored” is available now on and accessible on all streaming platforms. For more information visit YouTube.

bianca 2Bianca Sapet (Primary Vocalist) is a Xicana singer/songwriter , native to San Anto, Tejas, who strongly believes music can heal, transform, and transmute ancestral, spiritual knowledge; that music is one of the ways in which to bring about social change. Her life informs her music porque vida es arte y arte es vida. She is currently at work on an album.

l tijerinaLilith Tijerina is a San Antonio native teatrista pursuing a career in performance art, lighting design, and acting. As she navigates through an ongoing struggle with identity, her work reflects personal experiences of oppression, trauma, and healing as a brown Chicana artist. She has a BFA in Theatre, Performance and Production and a Minor in Latina/o Studies from Texas State University.

A curated playlist by Bonnie Ilza Cisneros (aka DJ Despeinada) will be played prior to each show. Attendees are invited to enjoy the pre-show mix.



she wears bells : how to support San Antonio-based performance

I am a long-time poet whose work includes essays, plays, and one-woman performance. So much of my work with others in community is aimed at fortifying our spirit through creative work, of healing by placing our words and action out into the world.

I have been fortunate enough to gain new friends and work with established artists in my circle as we have come together for the operatic debut of she wears bells, a reconfigured operetta about the Aztec god Coyolxauhqui and her exile on the moon.

she wears bells is our first effort as a group and will be produced June 26 and 27, 2020 under Jump-Start Performance Co.’s umbrella as part of their INKubator project. 

With your support, this production and others can come to fruition to add more voices to an already rich history of culture and art in San Antonio. By supporting with a monthly gift you are opening the door to innovative and challenging voices within our community.

We welcome you to become a patron through Patreon.

If you would like to complete a one-time donation in support of the artists of this production or to talk about this and other projects complete your donation at or email me at

she wears bells (operetta)

Jump-Start Performance Co. has chosen she wears bells, featuring librettist jo reyes -boitel and choreographer and dancer Giomara Bazaldua, to be produced June 26 & 27, 2020.

About she wears bells: Aztec goddess Coyolxāuhqui appears as the moon, after having made the wrong choices time and again when she followed her own pride and the voices of her own children (who serve as a chorus for the dying world). She is isolated and will flounder unless she opens herself up to transformation and wholeness.

What if the world begins again in splinters? If we are torn apart and our pieces thrown into the sky, to be reconfigured? What if this possibility for a new body/understanding is within our reach, shining our own light back at us, the moon a mirror toward our possibility?

Sometimes we have to be broken in order to reclaim a life. But is an Aztec god willing?

Follow Jump-Start and/or me on Facebook for details. Or, return here for details on ticketing, production info, and location/time details!

M+J Study Guide

I’ve created a general study guide to help with discussions around the Michael + Josephine book that covers worldwide conflict, the role of disaster relief workers, queer love as a form of resistance, and self-love/personal evolution.

I hope it’s of benefit to individuals and classrooms. I am happy to expand on any elements as needed. Reach me at

Michael Josephine study guide