Ballet Folklorico de Mexico is a celebration of culture

Published on March 24th, 2021

By Jim Dail

Culture is expressed in many ways, but one of the most effective methods is through performance. The Ballet Folklorico de Mexico ensemble has been celebrating the culture of Mexico for decades.

“We started in 1952 with eight people and now we have 600 people in the company and more than 45 million people have seen our performances,” said promotor/coordinator Salvador Lopez Lopez. “We are made up of students and professionals, with one company that remains in Mexico City, and the other that travels around the world.”

The group is noted for being a pioneer of Baile Folklorico, traditional Latin dances that emphasize folk culture. And Lopez himself joined the group in 1982 at the request of founder Amalia Hernandez.

“Normally, our performers are from Mexico because that is the culture, but we have others from different places as well who come to us,” he said. “We have some from the United States, such as Colorado, New York, California, some from France, Turkey, but I’d say about 98 percent are from Mexico.”

The company was formed by Hernandez after a career at the Mexican Academy of Dance.

“It allowed her to have more artistic creativity,” he said. “We have to keep it fresh. We always will have the culture there but we have to make it different so that people who see us a second or third time don’t just see the exact same thing.”

That’s good because the company is well-known around the world.

“We normally do about 45 to 50 performances, with one year on the West Coast and the next year on the East coast,” he said, “We will then tour Europe and Asia and Japan. We have performed everywhere including shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.”

Ironically, they do not perform much around South or Latin America.

“It is not easy to get a promoter to promote the travel of 20 tons of dresses and people and supplies,” he said. “So that can make it difficult to perform in some places.”

There are always challenges, particularly with designing the shows.

“The first thing is that there has to be a lot of distance between dances so you can see them and see the different styles and music,” he said. “We make contrasts between them. We also have to connect to the people of the audience quickly so we have to start with a strong dance that gets them responsive. Finally, we have to look at the size of the theater because that determines what we can do. We have to analyze what kind of tour we can do.”

And the audience is by no means of a single culture.

“The crowds are people from all cultures,” he said. “That’s how you reach people, by sharing your culture with them and that is what we proudly do.”


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