Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
The September sun was glaring in my face, but I did not find it as intimidating as I had four years ago. I walked out with our group composed of old and new members for the Yucatan dance we had been rehearsing for a month. With each bittersweet step at my last Fiesta on the Mesa, I realized that I’d grown immensely in confidence from the “freshman who could not dance” who decided to try something new in college.
Ballet Folklorico is a genre of dance developed in Mexico City during the 1950’s. Each Mexican state has a designated costume and steps that correlate to the region’s diverse culture. Our group performs pieces from several states including Jalisco, Veracruz, Chiapas, Durango, Yucatan, and Baja California. While I love each dress individually, my favorite is the black Chiapas dress with delicate and colorful floral embroidery!
I first heard of Club Ballet Folklorico de Fort Lewis College at El Centro’s open house which coincided with my first afternoon of college. I was homesick for New Mexico and spontaneously decided to attend. I arrived to a room full of people speaking Spanish and the best enchiladas! Then Kathy, the president of the group, performed and advertised the group. I asked if she would be willing to teach me (a bona fide klutz with no dance experience) and four weeks later, I danced the same piece in front of 400 people at Fiesta on the Mesa 2010. Since then, I have been a proud member of the dance group!
Learning a new skill is not easy and this is the case with Ballet Folklorico. Our group has experienced members that started to dance as toddlers as well as beginners who thought they would try Ballet Folklorico because the dresses are gorgeous! We practice at least once a week in addition to a weekend each month. Ballet Folklorico is a form of exercise and our group places a significant amount of physical energy in our performances.
Over the past three years, I have had opportunities to perform at several campus events, the high school in Ignacio, and last November, a meaningful performance in Aztec, New Mexico! I now have dance moves that I displayed in Botswana, Ecuador, and at a summer camp in Montana! The summer before my junior year, my family came up for a weekend and saw me perform for the first time. I hope one day I can perform in Albuquerque so more loved ones can see Ballet Folkorico.
More importantly, dancing enabled me to be a part of El Centro de Muchos Colores. I am not Hispanic, but “The Center of Many Colors” serves as my New Mexico on campus. There are countless occasions where a quick visit to El Centro turns into an hour for me due to conversations, Spanish practice, celebrations, or delicious food! When I am homesick, I sit in El Centro and gaze at two watercolor paintings depicting the Sandias overlooking a cornfield and luminarias at Christmas time. I feel that Club Ballet Folklorico and El Centro are my family here in Durango and I could not picture my college experience without them. I will sincerely miss the community when I graduate, but for now I plan to dance as often as possible!