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The Significance of Alebrijes + Fun Facts About Pixar COCO’s Pepita and Dante

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Alebrijes (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈβɾixes]) are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. … Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.

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The Significance of Alebrijes

Have you ever heard of Alebrijes? Me either until a few months ago visiting Pixar Animation Studios learning about Pixar Coco.  Alebrijes are animals that escaped the nightmares of an artist and appear as a variety of different species – both real and fantastic and  native to the Valley of Oaxaca in Mexico.

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They are rare and unique animals that hold a special place of being a spirit guide. You will not find any 2 that are alike and they are each different with their vibrant colors, and details throughout such as patterns, stripes, shapes, facial expressions and more.

Writer and Co-Director Adrian Molina collected Alebrijes as a kid and now they have become part of the movie Pixar Coco. While we were learning about Alebrijes, we got a chance to make our own Pepita in the workshop.  Seeing everyone paint theirs so differently shows it really is true that no 2 are alike and that is why they are you own spirit animal.

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Check out my Pepita that I made! Isn’t she beautiful? She will forever sit on my shelf and guide me along the way.

Two characters in the movie Pixar COCO are guides to Miguel and great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda along they way. They are Dante, Miguel’s street dog and great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda spirit guide Pepita.  How these characters came about in the movie is pretty interesting with some fun facts to share with you.

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Fun Facts About Pixar COCO’s Pepita and Dante

  • The inspiration for Dante came from a Xoloitzcuintli dog, which is the national dog of Mexico.
  • The animators got ideas from other famous Disney dogs in “Lady and the Tramp,” and Dug from “Up” to develop Dante’s movements.
  • Being that Dante is hairless the animators had to add in wrinkles, slotches and mostly skin stimulation to his structure.
  • Dante’s tongue was modeled after the tentacles for Hank in “Finding Dory.”
  • Having Dante’s tongue always hanging out to the side gave him more of a personality than being  just a beat up street dog.
  • There was an international short called “Dante’s Lunch” before Pixar Coco was created.

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  • Pepita is a mashup of a lion and an eagle with a  lizard tale, eagle feet and wings, front arms/head of a jaguar, and ram horns.
  • Pepita’s appearance is inspired by Alebrijes with bright colors that stand out.
  • In the film Pixar COCO, Pepita casts a lighting from her body as she walks around.
  • While creating Pepita, the animators found it challenging to create natural movement from the combination of different animal anatomy and studied it down to the claws to make it believable.
  • Alebrijes along with Pepita became an addition to the film as spirit guides.

COCO opens in theaters everywhere on November 22nd! 

Like COCO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCoco

Follow COCO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcoco

Follow COCO on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcoco/

Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco

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