Dancers deliver a taste of Mexico
By Audrey Webb
If most of what you know about Mexico was learned at a Taco Bell drive-through, take advantage of an on-campus opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of our neighbors to the south by attending a performance of The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA)’s Ballet Folklórico.
The internationally acclaimed troupe, now in its 43rd year, will stop at Texas State on Sunday, February 17, as part of its current tour of Alegria Temporada 2013. The performance combines culture and colorful costumes in choreography that blends contemporary movement with traditional folk dances of numerous states and regions across Mexico. Ballet Folklórico has a mission to use dance as a means to enlighten people of all backgrounds about Mexico, but the troupe’s artistic director, Francisco Munoz III, believes the show is of particular relevance to anyone who can boast Mexican heritage.
“It’s extremely important for people to know about their roots,” Munoz says. “Descendants begin to lose a little bit of their heritage as they assimilate. It’s really valuable for Mexican-Americans – especially the younger generation – to figure out the connection to their culture.”
Munoz’s message translates not only to audience members, but also to his gifted performers, all UTPA students. While Mexican heritage is not mandatory to be part of the Ballet Folklórico troupe, most of the 32 dancers are of Mexican descent. For dancer Ricardo Flores, the experience of training with Munoz and visiting master instructors has given him further insight into his cultural heritage.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t think there was anything exciting about being Mexican,” Flores says. “Without being involved in Ballet Folklórico, I would have had no idea what Mexican culture is all about.”
Flores notes that his involvement in Ballet Folklórico has given him an opportunity to teach his parents about their own past. “My father has been in the U.S. since a very young age. The first time my parents saw me perform folklórico dancing from their state in Mexico, they learned to appreciate where they came from and became more proud of where they were born,” Flores says.
Search “Ballet Folklórico UTPA” on Facebook or watch a promotional video for a taste of what Ballet Folklórico has to offer. Then make a run for the box office before the performance at Evans Auditorium on February 17 at 7:30 p.m.