Photo Courtesy of Ballet Folklorico de CSUF

Photo Courtesy of Ballet Folklorico de CSUF

School is officially in session and college folklorico groups are beginning their first month of practices. Approximately 40 people attend the orientation meeting and half of them show up to the first practice. Some of the new members are first timers and others have danced for years. Either way, any folklorista will benefit from joining their college folklorico group. Here’s why.

1. Your university folklorico group becomes your home away from home.

“My college experience has been amazing and it is because of folklorico,” said Krystal Skeens, a third year at University of Texas of the Permian Basin and member of UTPB Ballet Folklorico. “We are more than just a team, we are a family. We care for one another and we look after each other.”

Krystal describes a unique support system that college folklorico groups offer. Your group members understand the difficulties of balancing school with work. They can help you discover yourself and find your place at the university. For those who live away from home, group members help make this transition easier.

“Being away from home can be tough and at times, some of us want to give up. We each remind each other why we are there,” said Krystal.

2. Career skills can be learned and practiced with your university folklorico group before the real world begins.

As a student at UC Santa Cruz, Edgar Ontiveros sought out the Latino community and discovered Grupo Folklorico Los Mejicas de UCSC. He became friends with members in the group, attended their annual Spring Concert, and was personally invited to the space. Edgar was attracted to the festive nature and cultural aspect of the group. He was involved in the education committee and helped develop choreography for one of the regions. After graduating UC Santa Cruz, Edgar became the Health and Outreach Coordinator at the Santa Cruz Community Health Center. He credits Los Mejicas for helping him develop his career skills before he entered the workforce.

“I learned a sense of self esteem, to work with other people, to be a leader, and to speak out for what I think is right. These skills were practiced and learned with Mejicas,” said Edgar.

3. You have the ability to develop your university folklorico group.

University groups offer folkloristas a unique opportunity to give their own input and shape the group’s future. I still see the effects of my decisions on Ballet Folklorico de CSUF two years after my executive board term. All university folklorico groups run differently. Some university folklorico groups hire maestros/as; others have student maestros/as. Some groups have an executive board; others do not. Despite the organizational structure, students have an opportunity to share and develop their talents that will affect the future of the group. If you are a good teacher, you can volunteer to teach the beginning members the steps. If you love event planning, you can lead the event planning committee for your upcoming show. I believe Edgar Ontiveros described this aspect best in our interview, “You have a lot to share and grow as a dancer, teacher and leader.”