Danza Folklorica, also known as Ballet Folklorico, is a beautiful Mexican dance that reflects heritage and tradition. There are many types of dances from different states throughout Mexico that highlight the culture of that region through unique costumes and music. The folklore, costumes, colors, steps and many other elements represent Mexican culture.
Fabiola Méndez Chaparro, dances Ballet Folklorico, and has done many presentations throughout the world where she has represented her country. She started Ballet Folklorico as an after school activity and it soon became her passion. She believes dancing is a beautiful way to represent Mexico.
Fabiola started to practice Ballet Folklorico when she joined her school’s dance group in middle school in Juarez, Mexico directed by Gilberto Rodriguez. Fabiola went to many local and state contests with her group. Later on, her teacher decided to start an independent community-wide dance group. In 2001, with the encouragement and dedication of the teachers from Ballet Folklorico Del Norte led by Gilberto Rodriguez and Edna Delgado, began its journey. This group was where Fabiola’s love for Ballet Folklorico really flourished. “Initially it started as a simple hobby after school with my mother’s encouragement, but over time I learned to love my dance teachers in an incredible way, be proud of my country and its culture so vast and rich. Now every step, every type of dance, the story of the people and how to be in every place that is reflected in each dance is wonderful,” Fabiola mentions as she describes her love of Ballet Folklorico.
Fabiola been able to gain new experiences and develop her skills because of her dance team. “There have been many things that Danza Folklorica has given me… I started at a very young age in a difficult stage as a teenager. It helped me a lot to stay busy and focused on something positive, because you need to have a lot of discipline perseverance and dedication.” Fabiola also mentions that she has learned many things from her teachers. Her dance group became her second family and she is very grateful to have been part of Danza Folklorica Del Norte.
Fabiola had the opportunity to represent Mexico by traveling to international festivals around Europe such as, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, and Turkey. “These trips helped me mature a lot because the tour lasted about five weeks. It involved being away from my family and having the energy to leave a positive impression of our country, and no doubt that is what we did,” Fabiola said.
She has no specific favorite dance. It is hard to decide because each dance has variations in costume, technique, and music. However she expressed that she loved the colors of the costumes from Jalisco, being the most represented in the world by charro suits for men and colorful dresses for women. She thinks the music from the Yucatan, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz state dances are beautiful, and of course that of Chihuahua.
Fabiola believes danza folklorica is an important part of the Mexican culture because it is one of the main expressions of art and it reflects all parts of Mexico. “For centuries danza folklorica has been used as an art form as a means of cultural expression to show our, patriotism, political beliefs and religion… Mexican folklore transcends borders and through this its versatility is shown as well as the richness of Mexican communities, their joy, colors, music and more. While dancing we also express customs, traditions, values, and you learn the history of different towns (pueblos).”
She mentioned that to practice Ballet Folklorico it is important to have patience and practice. It takes time to become a good dancer but with dedication, passion can be born. Fabiola says, “First of all, there has to be an affinity and a love for dance. It is not necessary to have dancing skills because with time, dedication and effort you would learn to dance. The best dancer is not born, but made. Passion is a large part of dance performance. This passion is the ingredient that helps you express with all your senses, your body and the dancing that you are performing.”
Fabiola encourages young girls to practice Ballet Folklorico because it is a beautiful way to represent their heritage. “If anyone chooses to engage in this beautiful art I can only say that they learn to love the dance and represent it with dignity and with a passion wherever they go. The passion for what you do is what makes the difference and creates excellence.”
As a last thought, Fabiola thanks her family for the support, because without them it would have been impossible to achieve her goals. “Their unconditional support at all times has been me energy to make them feel proud.” With talented and dedicated dancers like Fabiola, Danza Folklorica remains a beautiful Mexican tradition that we all should admire and be proud of.