Folklorico Mexicano teaches dances, culture, heritage |

Folklorico Mexicano teaches dances, culture, heritage

CARBONDALE – The girls on the stage looked like delicate dolls, moving their heads to the side as they opened their brightly colored skirts and fanned them in front of their crowd.The boys looked like noble conquistadors as they danced around the girls, hands behind their backs, large sombreros covering their heads.For an hour, boys and girls from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performed Folklorico Mexicano dances at the Festival las Americas.Traditional Mexican folk dancing is very expressive and involves a lot of stomping and toe tapping. The way costumes are designed and the manner in which dancers move depends on the area of Mexico where the dance originated.Saturday’s dancers performed dances native to Jalisco, Mexico, which is a Mexican state near the South Pacific.Male Jalisco dancers wear short jackets, long pants and large sombreros. The coats, jackets and sashes wrapped around the boys’ waists were influenced by Spaniards who occupied Spain before Mexican independence, said Francisco Nevarez, director of Folklorico Mexicano.Mexicans adapted Spaniard’s pants and jackets but spiffed them up by adding silver buttons down the side of the pant legs. Torrential rain storms made wide brimmed sombreros popular in Jalisco because rancheros needed to protect their faces while farming, Nevarez said.”My students don’t just learn how to dance, they learn about their heritage, the culture and the costumes,” Nevarez said. “They learn everything.”During Nevarez’s dance lessons which are five times a week for three hours each, students learn about where the dances came from, the differences between dances in each region and the history of Mexican culture.Mexican Folklorico dance is an after-school program and is free for any student in the valley, Nevarez said. The parents of many of Nevarez’s students learned the traditional dances when they lived in Mexico; however, many of those parents stopped dancing.Sometimes parents force their kids to dance, but Nevarez only teaches students who want to dance.While explaining his teaching philosophy, a student came up to Nevarez and said “My mom said I need to take your class.””You can only take this class if you want to take this class,” Nevarez said.Nevarez moved to the valley two years ago. In two years, he’s grown from about 50 students to 95 students.Nevarez recruits students by presenting the program to elementary, junior high and high school principals in the valley. So far every school’s been supportive, and Nevarez has 20 percent Anglo students and 80 percent Hispanic students.”It’s important to do this, especially to do it here because it’s part of this culture,” said Veronica Ulloa, 13, a Folklorico dancer from El Jebel. “It’s different, I know, but I’ll do it until I graduate.”Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534ivogel@postindependent.comFor more information about the Folklorico after school program call Francisco Nevarez at 970-925-7175 ext. 40.For more information about the Folklorico after school program call Francisco Nevarez at 970-925-7175 ext. 40.

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