Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez is one art form that truly withstands the test of time. Founded over 50 years ago, the Mexican dance troupe continues to dance, tour, and thrill audiences around the world- and September 13th, the revered company returns to Austin for a one night only, unforgettable performance.
TODO Austin and reporter Liz Lopez highlight the historical beauty of this company, in addition to the excitement and talent that surround Ballet Folkorico’s upcoming Long Center performance.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 through October 15, traditional festivities whose roots can be traced back to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, are displayed across the U.S. to honor the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens of Hispanic heritage.
In Austin, the observation will be made all the more meaningful with an appearance from Mexico’s most revered dance troupe, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez, which will appear at the Long Center on Sunday, September 13, at 7 p.m.
The legendary Hernandez, a classically trained ballet dancer and choreographer, founded the company in 1952 with the mission of focusing on native Mexican dance. For three generations, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico has represented Mexico on stages around the world and has garnered several prestigious awards in their nation and overseas. The performances by the dance company are designed to highlight the finest dancers of the artform, composers, singers, costume and set designers, and musicians.
In a phone interview from his studio in Mexico City, Salvador Lopez, Director of Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, discussed what Austin patrons should expect from the company on their upcoming visit. “The pieces are as lively as ever as they have been redesigned with numerous new arrangements,” Lopez stated. “There is a new generation of dancers in our company that have been together approximately eight years. I think this is an era in our company’s history that is the strongest with the energy of the dancers and musicians. We’re experiencing a renovation of the production.”
For art/dance enthusiasts and those who may not have experienced a folkloric dance performance, or lack extensive knowledge of Mexico and its history, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico offers a program that spotlights the country’s indigenous, African and European heritage and explores how those cultures have influenced today’s Mexican identity. At different times in the country’s history, efforts were made to eradicate and/or at least modify indigenous dances. Ballet Folklorico de Mexico’s show is a study in what has been passed down, such as seguidillas, fandangos, huapangos, boleros and zapateados, among others, some of which are modified or are informed by new choreography.
The Mexican Revolution, for example, inspired a particular creative folk style song still popular in the present day, as heard in “La Adelita,” “La Valentina” and “La Cucaracha.” By the 1930s, when dance became more popular, communities were prompted to build educational centers, including the Fine Arts Department of Mexico City. Despite waning interest during subsequent decades, the Mexican government continues to subsidize its cultural programs on the basis of their aesthetic and social value.
In 1952, ballet folklorico companies enjoyed the support and leadership of cultural visionaries, with Amalia Hernandez the chief ambassador among them. The company she created met with wide acclaim and brought respect to the art of ballet folklorico on a global scale. On September 13, Austin patrons will have an opportunity to be immersed in Hernandez’s grand achievement.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico has transcended borders around the world, one result being the popularity of companies including Austin’s Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklórico de Texas, Ballet East Dance Company, the University of Texas at Austin’s Ballet Folklórico, and AISD Austin High’s Ballet Folklórico, among others.
Ballet Folklorico de Mexico continues to inspire through its educational center, as Director Lopez explained, as students entering the ballet school must take five years to earn the right to be considered for the professional ballet company.
“This is a young company and they have worked together since they were children,” said Lopez. “They have a power and dynamic that this ballet has not had in many years.” Over the course of his tenure as director, Lopez explained that the delivery and dedication of his troupe has grown which is of significant importance as the company is challenged to remain current and contemporary.
“This ballet company has gone through many generations,” stated Lopez. “I hope (the audience) finds the energy contagious.” He promises his performers will “feed the fan of emotions.”
Read the entire article in this month’s issue of TODO Austin. Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez plays the Long Center’s Dell Hall on Sunday, September 13th at 7:00PM. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.