International dance instructors bring danzas, culture to South Texas College
Instructor, Yahir Padilla Aceves, from the state of Sinaloa, demonstrates dance steps to students at the South Texas College Folklorico & Contemporary Summer Dance Workshop. Instructors from the Mexican states of Veracruz, Sinaloa, Mexico City, Guanajuato, and San Luis hosted the first ever workshop for students across the Rio Grande Valley July 22-26.
South Texas College hosted local students to learn about the traditional aspects of cultural dances, danzas, and music from across México through a unique weeklong summer dance workshop.
STC introduced its first ever South Texas College Folklorico and Contemporary Dance Summer Workshop, which took place at the Mission Event Center from July 22-26, and then culminated in a dance recital on Saturday, July 27.
Instructors hailed from the Mexican states of Veracruz, Sinaloa, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi as well as Mexico City, and were available for the 100-plus students who participated. Students arrived from five school districts in the Valley including Brownsville ISD, PSJA ISD, Weslaco ISD, La Joya ISD, and Edinburg CISD, along with private dance academies from Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Round Rock.
Notable guest instructors at the workshop included Roberto Martinez, Director of Ballet Folklorico from the University of Guanajuato; and Blanca Ramirez, a well-known private dance instructor from Xalapa whose dance troupe Jovenes Zapateadores is extremely well known throughout the Mexican state of Veracruz.
The objective of these workshops were to provide an educational space for students and dance teachers where the instructors and scholars come and share the investigative research on these danzas, and dancers and instructors use the material in their own programs. Through this initiative, South Texas College is facilitating the need that is seen most, which is the difficulty of being able to learn from the scholars themselves in this type of learning atmosphere.”
“The whole purpose or objective here is to have a weeklong workshop where students have the opportunity to learn dances from these different states in Mexico,” said Victor Gomez, history professor and director of Ballet Folklórico South Texas College (BFSTC). “We wanted to offer this to the dance community in our region so even dance teachers in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, or private academies can come to these workshops, learn the material and eventually go back and teach it there.”
BFSTC is known for its traditional dances that highlight local folk culture with ballet characteristics and extravagant dance movements. It is comprised of traditional Mexican dances, which derive from the various cultures in México including those from indigenous tribes and communities.
Since the creation of the program in January 2012 by the Center for Mexican American Studies, BFSTC has continued to share its roots in various community functions displaying dances throughout the region.
Ballet Folklórico South Texas College offers students the opportunity to learn about traditional aspects of cultural dances, or danzas and music from across México.
“I really saw it as a need for this region,” Gomez said about the workshop. “The objective of these workshops were to provide an educational space for students and dance teachers where the instructors and scholars come and share the investigative research on these danzas, and dancers and instructors use the material in their own programs. Through this initiative, South Texas College is facilitating the need that is seen most, which is the difficulty of being able to learn from the scholars themselves in this type of learning atmosphere.”
“This has a lot of value because through this process, students are being taught dances that are traditionally practiced in communities all across Mexico,” Gomez said. “We want to let the community know that these things that have so much cultural value are being rescued by way of dance.”
In recent years, BFSTC has continued to earn opportunities to represent South Texas College throughout the Valley, the country and even across Mexico. Aside from participating at important community events across the Valley, the group has performed at major festivals in North Carolina, New Orleans, Austin, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Yucatan, and Veracruz.
“These workshops give us the opportunity to discuss the importance of this process,” Gomez said. “People may think we are just learning a dance they can just get off the Internet or on a video, but it’s not really like that. There is a whole process behind learning a danza, which also includes the costuming, music, and formations that make up a particular dance.”
“We want to expose participants to this process, and we want to be sure they learn the dances,” Gomez said.
For more information on BFSTC, call (956) 872-2070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Facebook page by searching “Ballet Folklorico South Texas College”.