Posted on October 12, 2023 by Frances Sanchez


October 12, 2023 - Ballet Folklórico is a beauty display of historical preservation and cultural expression. With every pointed-toe, specialty choreographed move, students use these dances to teach others about Mexico's history.

  While many of us have seen the beautiful dancers and vibrant dresses with the men in  Charro  suits, this time-honored tradition dates back to the colonial period (1525-1810) after Mexico gained independence from Spain. Today's dances bear influences from Germany, France, Asia, and Africa. Over time, folklórico has even permeated American culture.

"Ballet Folklórico influenced American culture by embracing, enjoying, and reflecting the traditions, cultures, and beliefs of someone in a particular region of Mexico or Latin America," said Azalea Varela, a second-year Kinesiology major.  

  Under the direction of Dr. Sidury Christiansen, Ballet Folklórico de UTSA is a Latino group that teaches and shares the history of Mexico and folklórico through dance. Beyond Hispanic Heritage Month, the dance group performs at many UTSA and city-wide events like Fiesta.

"There is so much diversity, and this is the heritage of many of our students, so what a better goal of the organization than to preserve culture through dance," added Dr. Christiansen, associate professor of TESOL/Applied Linguistics in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies.

The group is a registered nonprofit housed in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies in the College of Education and Human Development. A student started the group in 2019 with funds from Dr. Christiansen. As a nonprofit, the group needs regular funds to maintain their  trajes  or costumes, shoes, rehearsal spaces, and more.

"I believe that some resources that would really benefit our organization would be getting a greater variety of outfits that we can use for performances. At the moment, we have a few outfits from Chiapas and Jalisco, but it would be great to have more variety. However, these resources are quite expensive, so we hope to receive donations and raise funds in order to purchase these outfits and other resources."

  What seemingly began as a passion project has evolved and grown with more interest. Now, the group of about 20 members is seeking funds to keep their operation going. They operate as a donation-based nonprofit and have been fortunate enough to receive gently used donated attire and accessories. But would prefer to see a regular revenue stream fund their ongoing historical preservation efforts, especially at a Hispanic-serving institution like UTSA.

"As an HSI, UTSA will also have another way to showcase the cultural makeup of our student body. BFdeUTSA will help UTSA send the message that UTSA not only welcomes Hispanic students, faculty, and staff but respects and values their culture and traditions and that they belong to the UTSA community," said Dr. Christiansen. 

The dance group accepts student members from various backgrounds and does not require you to have previous dance experience. Ballet Folklórico is an open expression of a diverse history, so accepting dancers from all walks of life is a part of its fabric.

Learn more about Ballet Folklórico de UTSA here .



— Frances Sanchez