A few months ago, I hade the privilege of getting to see 35 minutes of Pixar’s COCO and to interview Christian Hoffman – Character Supervisor for COCO, Alonso Martinez, and. We took a deep dive into Pepita and Dante’s character development and also learned a ton about Alebrijes! Here are some fun facts about Alebrijes. It is so funny, but now that I know what they are, I keep seeing them all over the place. I saw them at Epcot in “Mexico” and then again at dinner in Disney Springs at Frontera. Now, I am dying to go to go to Mexico again so that I can have my own Alebrijes collection. My collections started at Pixar Animations Studios with an awesome gift of a 3D model of Pepia that we got to paint in class with Alonso Martinez (check out the pics above).
9 Fun Facts about Alebrijes
- Alebrijes are folk art from Mexico.
- The style of art was started with Pedro Linares. His family made Pinatas so they were very focused on art. One day, when he was very sick, Pedro had a fever dream where chimera animals came to life in a forest. When he awoke and recovered, he started making the animals out of paper mache.
- This is Mexicos most recognized art forms.
- Alebrijes are carved a local wood called copal. It is extremely soft and easy to carve.
- They do not come from a religious mythology.
- Each person brings their own artistry to making Alebrijes.
- In Mexico, they have festivals with parades and giant Alebrijes.
- Pepita in Pixar’s COCO is modeled after Alebrijes paying homage to Mexican Folk Art.
- The creator of Pepita and Dante, Alonso Martinez started collecting Alebrijes when he was a kid.
Let’s talk about Dante! You can tell from watching only 35 minutes of the film that Dante was going to bring a lot of comedy to the film. He is a street dog that follows around Miguel. At the interview, I learned that Dante is modeled after a Mexican hairless dog called the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced and shortened to Cholo). These are dogs that are said to safeguard the home from evil spirits and have healing powers. They are also said to serve as guides for the dead to the land of the living to the land of the dead.
The animators found animating Dante particularly difficult because of his hairlessness. Hair on animated dog hides some flaws in the animation process. Without hair, the anatomy of Dante needed to be perfect. Also, since the skin is exposed you can see the wrinkles in Dante’s skin. This also posed a new challenge for the animators.
After doing reserch into the Xoloitzcuintli, the animators discovered that the breed has extremely bad teeth and often seen with their tongue hanging out of their mouth because of it. They decided to make Dante’s tongue hang out of his mouth. This is when they faced yet another challenge of animating a tongue realistically and comically at the same time. The animators used Hank’s tentacles from Finding Dory to help make the tongue articulations. It was pretty hilarious to see this simulation with Hank’s tentacle coming out of Dante’s mouth.
You can color in your own Dante! (Get it at the Disney Store HERE).
Alonso Martinez started collecting Alebrijes as a kid and had his dream come true when he was able to create the Pepita character for Pixar’s COCO. His passion for Alebrijes was written all over his face as he told us the history of Alebrijes. Even though Alebrijes do not have religious meaning, they are so much part of the Mexican culture that Pixar took creative license by incorporating them into the world of the Land of the Dead. Pepita is paying homage to Alebrijes and shedding light on the beautiful art of Mexico. After meeting Alonzo, I want to decorate my home with Alebrijes from Mexico as well. I can definitely see the appeal.
Pepita is a chimera animal with ram horns, lizard tail, feet and wings from Eagle, Tiger face and arms. She acts as a spirit guide in the Pixar’s COCO. I cannot wait to see the rest of the film so I can see more of her.
Learn more about COCO by visiting some of the other posts that I have written about the film:
Color your own Day for the Dead Craft. (Get this Cute Craft at the Disney Store HERE).
PIXAR*DISNEY COCO IN THEATERS NOVEMBER 22ND, 2017
FOLLOW COCO ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA:
FACEBOOK * TWITTER * INSTAGRAM * COCO WEBSITE
Stay tuned here on April Golightly for more Pixar’s COCO coverage!
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*Photo credits: Deborah Coleman / Pixar