LPM Staff

Dance awakens personal pride

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Image courtesy of Vanessa Ramirez, photo by Sarah Shaw Photography

Originally from: Nogales, Sonora, México

In Arizona since: 1993 (in the U.S. since 1980)

Training: Dance training with Daniel Macias in Venice, California, and Julie Gallego in Tucson, Arizona. Graduate of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe as a mind-body wellness practitioner.

Why did you pursue ballet folklórico? As a child raised in the U.S., I wasn’t ever encouraged to be “proud of where I came from” or “proud of my Mexican roots.” The truth is that I had no clue where I came from or “what” I was, rather like the saying “ni de aquí, ni de alla.” I knew we were from Mexico, but was ashamed of that as a kid. My mother and I would go to the park for Saturday outings and, one day as I rode off on my bike, I heard this loud vibrant music and I followed it. As I turned the corner, I encountered the most beautiful sight – stomping feet and colorful twirling skirts. Without knowing what it was, my heart told me this was where I belonged! I traded the playground for sitting in the back of this gymnasium to watch the dancers. After months of sitting there, the director, Daniel Macias, approached us and asked why we continued to sit and just watch. My mother replied, “This is what she wants to do now instead of playing.” He allowed me to join the group as the only child in an adult dance group.

Ballet Folklórico Quetzalli-AZ. Image courtesy of Vanessa Ramirez

Career highlights: I have had the honor to share a stage with Mariachi Vargas, Mariachi Sol de México and Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano. For 15 years, I participated in the Phoenix Christmas Mariachi Festival at the U.S. Airways Center, as well as in the International Mariachi Festival in Las Vegas.

About Ballet Folklórico Quetzalli-AZ: Our dance troupe celebrates the colorful traditions of Mexican folkloric dance. The group began as a recreational class at the City of Chandler’s Snedigar Recreation Center, and has grown rapidly in its three-year existence from just 6 students in June, 2008, to more than 30 students currently. The students are 2-15 years old and, recently, I have added a class for adults. 

 My students learn dances from various regions of México. Each month, they prepare a homework assignment about a particular Mexican holiday or about the region of origin of a dance they are learning; then, they share what they have learned in a class presentation. This encourages self-esteem, helps develop public speaking skills and improves their showmanship in performance.

Next professional goal: I would like to travel to México to obtain professional instruction from maestros in folkloric dance and bring that experience back to my dancers.  

Website: quetzalli-az.com

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