Ballet Folklórico dances into the heart of culture

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Ballet Folklórico de Cal State University Fullerton club meets every Monday and Tuesday and connects its members to Mexican culture.  (Yunuen Bonaparte / Daily Titan)
Ballet Folklórico de Cal State University Fullerton club meets every Monday and Tuesday and connects its members to Mexican culture.
(Yunuen Bonaparte / Daily Titan)

Steady vibrations travel across the floor as feet tap along its surface. Sharp, precise movements are in full display throughout the room while upbeat music echoes in the crowded practice space.

Women position their hands firmly at their hips while men keep theirs at their side. In sync with the rapidly-paced music, members of the Ballet Folklórico de Cal State University Fullerton club emit just as much passion in their movements as they do in their culture.

Ballet Folklórico, simply put, is an art. It’s an art that is expressed through traditional Mexican dance, said Joselyn Hernandez, president of the BF de CSUF club and a fourth-year member.

The BF de CSUF club, founded in 2007 by Christopher Sandoval, emphasizes the rich history of Ballet Folklórico, which varies in dance styles, songs and attire depending on state and region of Mexico.

“We really pride ourselves in teaching each other the history about the states and also teaching each other the steps,” said Hernandez, a kinesiology major.

BF de CSUF meets every Monday and Tuesday and focuses on learning the traditional Folklórico dances of various states in Mexico each semester.

Jose Vasquez, the club’s artistic director, is in charge of teaching the members Folklórico dances. He attends different workshops every month to learn the traditional dances of various states in Mexico.

“Folklórico is an ever-evolving process. It developed in the little pueblos in Mexico as a community-type event,” Vasquez said. “It evolved into something that allowed us to present our heritage to others.”

Vasquez, who has been a member for five years, credits Ballet Folklórico for reconnecting him to his Mexican roots.

“I am a fifth-generation Chicano and so that disconnect has always been in my life. This helps me reconnect back to my ancestral heritage and allows me to better integrate myself into my culture that I kind of lost throughout the generations,” Vasquez said.

The connection to Mexican culture is a draw for club members. Fourth-year member Argelia Leon said she joined the BF de CSUF club to pay homage to her mother, who grew up in Jalisco, Mexico, and to better understand her cultural background. Leon was also inspired to join after seeing how well the club connected as a whole.

“We’re not just a club on campus. We’re not just performers. We’re a family,” Leon said.

The club also gives its members, who range from beginners with zero experience to more advanced dancers, the opportunity to showcase their dances at a number of events.

Past events include performances at Disneyland, as well as Folklórico competitions. The club attends the Danzantes Unidos Festival every year and also performed at the Cal State University Folklórico Show for the first time last spring.

One of the club’s main goals, aside from learning the history of Ballet Folklórico, is to stay connected with all its members and keep a strong bond with each other, Hernandez said.

Doing her part to keep that bond alive, Hernandez said past members of the BF de CSUF club will be performing with the Coalicion de Folkloristas Unidos organization, which will be held on Nov. 7 at Garfield High School in Los Angeles.

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