Mid-Week Intermission Friend Edition: Edgar Yepez-García from Ballet Folklórico de Austin

It’s the season for gathering with friends, family, and everyone in between, so we looked to our friend Edgar Yepez-García for some tips! Artistic Director for Ballet Folklórico de Austin, read on to find out how he builds community through good food, shared heritage, tradition, and of course — the arts.

Edgar poses in a cowboy hat, pointing at his shirt that says "Guelaguetza Austin 2017"
My name is Edgar Yepez-García, and I am the Artistic Director of the Ballet Folklórico de Austin.
I am a native of San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, and studied computer engineering at the Technical Institute of Oaxaca before moving to Austin, Texas, in 2007.

I started my dance career at the age of six when I had the opportunity to perform in elementary school. I fell in love with the lights, stage, and music of the theater, and most of all, the energy and enthusiasm of the audience. As a young adult, I auditioned for the Ballet Folklorico Tochtepetl — the premiere dance company in my hometown and surrounding areas. As a member of Tochtepetl, I was fortunate enough to travel throughout Mexico, North and Central America, sharing traditional Oaxacan dances with the world.

After moveing to Austin, I took on various roles such as hosting a radio show with Encino Broadcasting and Marketing, Social Media Director for local eatery Mour Cafe, and opened the food truck Los Danzantes ATX, which has beeen recognized by both Texas Monthly and Austin Eater as one of the best new food trucks in Texas. As I continued to get situated in this city, my love for Mexican Folklore and the performing arts was unwavering, and it was then I decided to establish the Ballet Folklórico de Austin in 2014.

Ballet Folklórico de Austin

Ballet Folklórico de Austin (BF Austin) is always looking for ways to use Mexican folk dance to bring together spanish-speaking families in a space where all people can feel at home, and feel a little closer to their roots. Guelaguetza Austin is the stellar project that I created with the aim of showing the cultural richness of my native Oaxaca. Over time, the Oaxaca Guelaguetza in Austin has become a meeting point for Mexicans from all over the country, with a large presence by our fellow Texan neighbors from Houston, Dallas, and other nearby regions.

The Guelaguetza Austin aims to reflect and honor the tradition and authenticity that is expected of the Oaxacan Guelaguetza. All costumes and props are sourced directly from artisans in Oaxaca to ensure that no detail is overlooked, and the richness of the culture is preserved.

Perhaps the most important factor to maintain is the language in which these stories are told on stage. Mexican folklore has been and will forever be passed down in Spanish. As we share our gift of the Guelaguetza on stages outside of Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, it is of vital importance that native languages of Oaxaca be honored. For this, I have received several accolades for my artistic work in the city, including the “Award of Excellence” from the Mexican American Cultural Center and “Guelaguetza Day Proclamation” by former Mayor of Austin, Steve Adler.

Photo courtesy of Ballet Folklórico de Austin

My unending commitment to the preservation of traditional Oaxacan dance and customs is matched only by my desire for a unified and supportive dance company. I emphasize to all of my dancers the importance of acceptance, respect, and humility. I foster a sense of community through collaboration, not competition, and find a way to challenge and grow my company through constructive means. I work to gracefully balance an unconditional acceptance for all company members, regardless of experience, age, or appearance, while also holding them to the high standards one expects of a professional performing arts company.

While the crown jewel of BF Austin remains the annual Guelaguetza, I find ways to celebrate all of Mexico, preserving the traditional dances of various regions. I build strong rapport with directors from different states of Mexico and bring in master dance educators to teach workshops where the traditional dances of their home states can be passed down and preserved.

BF Austin is comprised of dancers from all over Mexico, as well as some born and raised in the US. When in my studio, my dancers come together to share everything from cultural dances to regional dishes, and we proudly provide a way for many local Mexican Americans and other members of the Hispanic community to connect with their heritage. As Austin continues to grow and change rapidly, it is important to preserve a part of the community that gives Austin its charm — the artists.

Photo courtesy of Ballet Folklórico de Austin

We are always looking for new adventures and goals for our artist group! Our bigger desire is to become Guelaguetza Austin, one of the most popular Mexican attractions in Austin and perform annually at the Long Center. We are working with other cities around the nation to bring our performance to other regions, and begin touring around the US in 2024. In the meantime, we invite everyone to our annual winter repertoire where we will be showcasing two new regions added to our portfolio, Tabasco and Nayarit.

Upcoming events on our calendar:

Mitote: Fiestas y danzas de México
December 10, 2023 | 12pm
Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center

Posada Navideña a.k.a Xmas Party
December 16, 2023 | 5:30pm
Plaza 5 de Mayo

Guelaguetza Austin
July 27, 2024 | 6:00pm
Dell Hall at the Long Center

This year, we had the marvelous opportunity to perform for the first time in Dell Hall at the Long Center, which meant the world to us because we brought our dancers and our community to have the experience of a lifetime. In September, our kids and youth groups from our dance school also had the opportunity to perform at Long Center’s first-ever Community Day. What a privilege!

Ballet Folklórico de Austin performing at Community Day at the Long Center. Photo by Brynn Osborn.

Agradezco con profundo respeto a los maestros pioneros de danza folclórica mexicana en Austin, Rodolfo “Rudy” Méndez & Roy Lozano por abrir una brecha para nuestra generación de nuevos soñadores, por ellos, por nuestros niños y jóvenes:

Que viva la danza folklórica mexicana en Austin!

Con respeto y agradecimiento,
Edgar Yepez-García

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One of the most important things we do at the Long Center is make space as accessible as we can to the wide variety of organizations that make Austin what it is. This year, we’ve given over $315,000 in rental discounts to performing and artistic orgs like Ballet Folklórico de Austin. Take a look at all the other stuff we’ve been able to accomplish this year with the help of our ticket buyers, donors, Members, and you!

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