DANCE INSTRUCTOR: Melisa Smith (she/her/ella)

Melisa Smith (she/her/ella)Melisa Smith is local to Durango, graduating from Durango High School in 2007 and Fort Lewis College in 2012. She lives and works in Durango, applying her Bachelor’s degrees in International Business and Spanish.

She has been involved with Ballet Folklorico from a young age, getting her start under DLEC-later Del Alma, and studying under instructor Jennifer Cossey. Melisa brought the dance group to Fort Lewis College in 2007, and it flourished under leadership from her younger sister Kathy Smith and instructor Jennifer Cossey.

Melisa’s teaching style is hands-on, she believes it is necessary to know the background and culture of the dances while maintaining a high level of fun. Dance shouldn’t feel like a just any another class, it should lift the spirits and be enjoyable not only for the audience but for the dancers as well. I believe that when the dancers are having fun, it shows!

OUR FOUNDING INSTRUCTOR 2008-2014: Jennifer Cossey (she/her/ella)

Jennifer Cossey (she/her/ella)Jennifer Cossey has more than 15 years of experience as a dance instructor and choreographer and has been teaching Durango students the art of Mexican Folkloric dance since 2004. Originally from Houston, TX, Jennifer moved to Durango in October 2003. Being so far from home at first was difficult because she missed family and friends, but she started teaching Ballet Folklorico de Durango the next year and has been actively involved in the Latino community since then.

Starting at age four, Jennifer began learning Mexican Folklorico dance. "The dance group, along with El Centro Hispano Center, has introduced me to some really amazing people and most importantly has given me strong ties within the Hispanic community here in Durango, feels like family".

"In 2005, I started attending Fort Lewis College. Being a new mom, a wife, and student was at times very challenging, but very rewarding". Graduating with a degree in Communications in December 2008, Jennifer worked in Durango before joining the FLC radio station as KDUR Office manager, and is now the Office coordinator of the President Office at FLC.

"Having these great opportunities to give students another way to see Mexico and the rich culture that it offers". Sharing her experience for Mexican Folkloric dance is what she does best as she helps others explore Mexican folkloric dance and its heritage through lectures, music, dance demonstrations and lessons.