Ballet Folklorico will continue to exist in Durango because of an educational grant from LPEA and a new formal partnership between Fort Lewis College and the Durango Education Center (DEC).
On February 18, 2014, representatives from FLC’s El Centro de Muchos Colores Hispano Center and the DEC signed a memorandum of understanding to combine and collaborate both youth and adult Ballet Folklorico dance programs in Durango. The new three-year pilot program will be called Ballet Folklorico de Durango.
“This has been a long-time dream that is finally coming true,” said Jennifer Cossey, Ballet Folklorico de Durango dance instructor.
The original Ballet Folklorico de Durango was founded in 1996 as a program of the nonprofit Durango Latino Education Center (DLEC) to help students of underrepresented populations learn pride in cultural heritage as well as to provide a safe and positive after-school activity. The youth dance group is now a program of the Durango Education Center and FLC coordinates the adult/community group.
“We are so excited to keep youth and adults in our community involved in this cultural arts dance program that started in the 90’s here,” said Shirena Trujillo Long, coordinator of El Centro at FLC. “This is about using Mexican folkloric dance to promote pride in cultural heritage while also educating our underrepresented students from kindergarten through college graduation.”
Ballet Folklorico de Durango’s new pilot program’s educational goal is to increase Latino student graduation rates in La Plata County and to also recruit, retain and graduate more Hispanic students at FLC. With a grant from LPEA for $3,500 that was awarded in January to El Centro, the pilot program is well underway.
Classes for youth ages 5-17 will begin Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m. at El Centro, located on the ground floor of the FLC Student Union (parking is free on Sundays). Adult community members or FLC students are invited to join the Ballet Folklorico de Durango Club which meets from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays at El Centro.
Several local performances are already booked and the dance group is available to book performances in the Four Corners for a suggested donation of $50-$100. The next performance is a Dinner & A Show fundraiser to be held Tuesday, March 4th from 5-7 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom at FLC. The $10 tickets are sold at the door and will help fund student scholarships, costumes, and travel to the annual national dance conference in order to learn more skills.
Also be looking for a culminating performance of both youth and adult dance groups at the Cinco de Mayo event held at Gazpacho Restaurant on Saturday, May 3. Dancers will perform throughout the day and the public is welcome to this family-friendly event.
To donate to Ballet Folklorico de Durango, or for more information about the dance program, please visit the El Centro website: www.fortlewis.edu/elcentro or call (970) 247-7290.