Archives for category: Folklorico Lifestyle

Duran's Shoes A dancer depends on his or her shoes just as much as the shoes depend on the dancer.  In folklorico, the shoes enhance the music and provide the beat of the zapateado.  As a folklorista, I have never really put much thought into the person behind my shoes until I decided to buy a new pair at Duran’s Shoes back in November 2014.  This quaint little shoe store located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles is known for customizing each shoe by hand based on each dancer’s needs. Walking into Duran’s Shoes feels like walking into your abuelita’s home.  Photos of dancers, musicians, superheroes and Trekkies adorn the walls of the tiendita, smiling and thanking Duran for their new pair of shoes.  White boxes are stacked neatly on the shelves along the walls and a curio cabinet proudly displays some awards, shoes and photos.  One of the shelves even drapes a variety of different colored leather, ready to be chosen and transformed into a shoe.IMG_0126

Although the story of Duran’s Shoes began in a garage on 3rd Street in Boyle Heights, the legacy of Duran’s Shoes spans back much further to a small village in Durango, Mexico.  Gonzalo Duran, the founder of Duran’s Shoes learned his trade at his father’s shoe repair shop at a young age. He would gain additional experience from the legendary cowboy boot shoemaker, Tony Lama in his teens.  After marrying the love of his life, Isabel and starting his family, he would gain additional experience working at a shoe factory in Los Angeles.

In the 1950s, Gonzalo would spend countless hours after work creating shoes in his garage.  He would eventually convert the garage into a shoe factory and the rest became history. Folklorico Shoes and boots by Duran's ShoesWord of mouth marketing drove business to the store, he hired employees to keep up with the demand, and he eventually expanded the product line to fit the needs of his audience.  He designed everything from drill team boots, jazz shoes, leather skirts, gloves, weight belts, and flamenco shoes.  One may wonder how Gonzalo began designing folklorico shoes.  According to his daughter Margarett, “One day, a customer came to him with a folklorico shoe in hand and asked Gonzalo if he could replicate the shoe.  He said yes.”  Since then, Duran’s Shoes has been serving the folklorico community by creating custom made folklorico shoes.  Gonzalo passed away in March 2002 at 78 years. Mrs. Isabel Duran of Duran's Shoes with blogger

Flash forward to 2015, Gonzalo’s wife, Isabel Duran continues to own and manage the store with the help of her two daughters, Isabel and Margarett.   Isabel, Gonzalo’s wife is the unsung hero of Duran’s Shoes.  She was extremely instrumental in co-founding the small mom and pop shoe shop with her husband, Gonzalo.  During the early days of the company, Isabel would personally pick out the leather and sew the shoes together.  Margarett, Isabel’s youngest daughter reminisced, “Once in a while, Mom would gather up all of the kids to come try on shoes.  Afterwards, they would get treated to McDonalds.” When her husband passed, she worked with the employees to continue fulfilling orders and keep the business running.  Thanks to Isabel, Duran’s Shoes is continuing to serve its customers including folklorico dancers everywhere and continue the legacy of her husband, Gonzalo. “People loved him and what I loved about him most was he was very kind,” said Isabel Duran. Luis of Duran's Shoes working on a shoe

After visiting the tiendita, guests like myself have the opportunity to view the facilities where the shoes are made. Behind the garage doors, another world exists filled with shoes in the process of coming to life and machinery that aid in their beginnings.  Two men, who appear to be in their late 50s or early 60s, demonstrate over 60 years of combined knowledge as shoe cobblers.  They have developed a system where the first employee, Luis would prep the fabric into a pattern and sew the shoes in shape. The second employee, David, would create the sole, heels and put the shoe together.   Luis, at 18 years, and David, at 12 years, began their training in the city of Leon in Guanajuato, Mexico. David of Duran's Shoes working on a pair of shoes In the 1980s, they both moved to the U.S. to work at Duran’s Shoes thanks to their individual acquaintances.

Both men are very passionate about their work, care about the quality of the shoes they create, and enjoy witnessing their shoes in action at local groups’ performances.  “I feel proud and very happy to see my work on-stage,” said Luis.  Few people realize the amount of time and precision it takes to make one pair of folklorico shoes.  From start to finish, it takes 14 hours to create a single pair, which includes the hour it takes to hammer the nails in the soles.  Despite the hard work and long hours, everyone at Duran’s Shoes takes pride in bringing happiness to their customers through quality footwear, continuing Gonzalo Duran’s legacy.  “I have had teachers in Mexico, but Gonzalo was the master.  I learned a lot from him and was proud to know him,” reminisced David.

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itsallaboutfolklorico-newyears

A new year offers a time of reflection, hope and empowerment for everyone across the globe.  We set goals for ourselves in every aspect of our lives which may include living a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world or being a better family member or friend to your loved ones.   I am challenging myself this year to learn and empower others as a folklorista and cultural instigator of our beautiful artform.  Here is what I plan on doing:

Learn

I am a big advocate of learning.  I plan on reading more books on folklorico history and anthropology such as The Folklorico Handbook by Rudy García or Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos edited by Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Norma E. Cantú and Brenda M. Romero.  I also want to learn a different dance style such as ballet.  In addition to, I plan on meeting as many folkloristas as I can.  I want to hear their stories and learn their perspectives on life and folklorico.

Empower

Empowerment can range in various ways. As a dancer, you can empower the audience you share the story with.  As a maestro/a, you can empower your dancers by showing them a new step or sharing the story of our culture.  Parents can empower their children by educating them on hard work and success.  Supporters can empower followers by sharing the passion of folklorico on social media or with their friends.  In 2015, I want to empower the folklorico community as a storyteller by documenting stories and sharing resources on Danzantes Unidos and It’s All About Folklorico blogs.  I want to share our passion with the world through written and visual online media.

I hope 2015 brings a year of success for you, your loved ones and folklorico family.  May your passion for folklorico continue to flourish this year.

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.”

Papa

I will never forget the look on my grandfather’s face when I entered onstage in my USC inspired ranchera to the sound of La Negra. His normal dazed expression turned into a smile and a light of joy twinkled in his eyes. I have never seen him so happy in the 14 months he had been bedridden at that point. That moment I had with my grandfather onstage made the work and effort I put into planning the folklorico show worth it. I began dancing folklorico because my grandma and my papa wanted me too. Now I dance folklorico to honor them.

I began my folklorico journey as a dancer at 4 years old when my grandma persuaded my mom to sign me up for classes. When she was younger, she along with her two younger brothers was able to take a class with a local community group. She learned and performed Las Chiapanecas and fell in love with folklorico. My grandma wanted to continue taking lessons but was unable to due to her family financial situation. When I began dancing, my grandma and papa did everything they could to support me. They took me to my dance lessons, they went shopping with my mom and I for costumes and accessories and they attended my performances.

My grandparents are my biggest fans. They support my evolving role in the folklorico community and strive to be there whenever they can despite the challenges they face. My grandparents set off the perfect chain reaction in beginning my folklorico journey; something I will always be thankful for.

(While Making My First Trenza)

My First Folklorico Trenza

I made this folklorico trenza to match my Jalisco ranchera.

I have never made a trenza before and have never learned to make one. Since I am going to Viva Fest on July 25, 2014 and I am planning to wear my new ranchera as I perform at the Viva Fest concert, I decided it was time to teach myself how to make a trenza. I am excited to tell you that I survived my first trenza making experience and am proud of how it turned out. Along the way, I discovered some tricks that helped me make my first trenza and felt the need to share them.

Side view of my trenza.

Side view of my trenza.

My trenza showing off its profile.

My trenza showing off its profile.

Trick #1: Use a chair to create the ponytail- When I first started making the trenza, I was unsure how to turn a ball of yarn into a braid. Luckily, my good friend and CEO of MiiCamisa Folk/Urban Wear, Chalome Gonzalez created a YouTube video called, “How to Make a Braid Extension for Folklorico” which helped me get started. In the video, Chalome wrapped the yarn around a chair to create the ponytail. The chair helps turn a ball of yarn into a ponytail easily and quickly. Thanks Chalome for the trick!

This chair became my biggest asset when I was turning a ball of yarn into a yarn ponytail.

This chair became my biggest asset when I was turning a ball of yarn into a yarn ponytail.

Trick #2: Tie the ribbon and the yarn ponytail together- I made a beginner mistake by tying the ribbon around the ponytail. I wish I used a string of yarn to tie the ponytail and ribbon together before making the braid.

Beginner Mistake

Notice how I tied the ribbon around the ponytail on the left hand side of the photo. I do not recommend attaching the ribbon this way.

Better way to attach ribbon to yarn ponytail

Attach the ribbon to the ponytail as demonstrated in this photo.

Trick #3: Braid stubs are easier to wrap with ribbon when turning a single braid into a circle braid- Make sure the braid stub ends are short and even in length. It is easier to wrap ribbon around braid stubs when making a circular braid.

Just in case you do not know what a braid stub looks like.

Just in case you do not know what a braid stub looks like.

Trick #4: Use your cellphone as a measuring tool- I did not want to look for a ruler so I used my cellphone to measure the ribbon for my bows. For the type of bows I wanted to make, I wrapped the ribbon around my phone to make sure each bow was equal in length.

My cellphone makes a great measuring tool

My cellphone makes a great measuring tool.

My perfect bow thanks to my cellphone

My bow looks perfect thanks to my cellphone.

Trick #5: E6000 glue is way better than a hot glue gun- I first discovered this glue when I began to rhinestone my corkboard and my folklorico inspired graduation cap. This glue is an industrial strength adhesive that works well on most surfaces. When using this glue, I recommend placing the tube on a piece of paper since it drips and using a toothpick to place the glue on a small surface (like the ribbon). It is sticky if it gets on your hands and I don’t recommend this glue for children. You can buy E6000 glue online or at any craft store. If you want more tips on using this glue, check out this YouTube video by Susan Street and its comments section.

This glue is amazing.

This glue is amazing.

There are many ways to make trenzas for Jalisco and every region in Mexíco. The tricks I learned in my first trenza making experience are not the only tricks in the trenza making world. I am not an experienced trenza maker and will continue to discover new tricks as I continue creating more trenzas. However, I would love to hear everyone’s tips and tricks on trenza making whether you are experienced or new. Feel free to write a comment with your tips and tricks below. In the meantime, happy trenza making folklóristas!

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Miicamisa Folk-Urban Wear is leading the way in providing urban yet cultural folklorico wear for folklóristas. With a modest beginning in David and Irene Gonzalez’s garage three years ago, Miicamisa has grown from providing folklórico wear to the Central Valley in California to fulfilling orders across the country. Its owner and head designer, Chalome Gonzalez is a young, down to earth folklórista who also teaches at a high school and community college part-time. I had the opportunity to interview Chalome to learn more about Miicamisa and her inspiration behind her designs.

chalome individual

It’s All About Folklórico: How did Miicamisa begin?

Chalome Gonzalez: My mother was a director of El Sol Dance Company, a folklórico troupe in Fresno, CA. I grew up surrounded by folklórico and dance. I remember running around the dance studio and using skirts as blankets for nap time. As a teen, I was always drawing, doodling, and creating, and I always wanted to wear my art. I painted on t-shirts, shoes, pants…anything to represent myself and wear my own art. At 22, I began teaching myself to screen print. It was very difficult; I even wanted to quit a few times. I kept working at it and I took over my parent’s garage with equipment, paints, and t-shirts. I began making shirts for some local churches and businesses in Fresno. After printing shirts for others, I began to create my own designs again; this time inspired by folklórico. I thought, “If ballet dancers, hip hop dancers, and jazz dancers have t-shirts to show their love for dance, why can’t folklórico dancers?” So I wore my first design to practice, and everyone in the group loved it and wanted to buy one. I was in shock that people really liked my designs and were willing to pay for them. I began making more designs inspired by folklórico and word spread to each of the folklórico groups in town. People from LA and the Bay Area saw the shirts I posted on my Facebook and wanted to buy them as well but we didn’t know how to create a website since it was very expensive to have one made. Luckily our family friend, Alfredo Ponce, who just happened to dance folklórico with El Sol, knew how to create websites and got us online. This is our 3rd year in business as Miicamisa and it’s been so great. Now we can ship all over the U.S. and folklórico dancers everywhere can wear their pride on their chest!

It’s All About Folklórico: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Chalome Gonzalez: Everywhere! I look at t-shirts online or at the mall and see what’s popular or what I would wear. Then I would add a folklórico twist or my own ideas. I try to think, if I wear this shirt, what statement am I making? I want Miicamisa to be positive and showcase Latinos in a strong way. I hate when I see shirts that say negative things about our culture. For example, if you look up Mexican or Latino shirts online, you see ‘Borracho, Im your Papi, etc;” sayings that are just negative. So I want to kind of change that. Even if its just a t-shirt, I want people to wear it and feel proud, like “Yes, I dance folklórico, I love my culture, I’m in college, I’m a role model!”

It’s All About Folklórico: I am a huge fan of your social media, in particular Instagram! How do you guys come up with ideas for the posts you create?

Chalome Gonzalez: Well again I see what others are doing and then try to flip it! I saw a lot about #flashbackfriday so I thought I’ll post old pictures of me dancing folklórico and call it #folkloricofriday . Then I asked others to do it and people really caught on to it. Again why can we not have our own hashtag day. Now every Friday, I try to create a meme to go with Folklórico Friday. Sometimes its hard; some I don’t get as many “likes.” I try to figure out what people like but its just about putting it out there and seeing the response. Over all social media has allowed us to expand and get to know our customers. We have some people who as soon as they purchase from our store, they keep coming back. We get to have conversations with people online, make connections, and get immediate feedback on ideas. A lot of times they are helping me create the designs. It’s been really great using social media and seeing our customers post about their shirt! We also try to do contests online through Facebook and Instagram and people love that as well!

Miicamisa team

It’s All About Folklórico: What advice would you give to a young folklórista who hopes to start a business one day?

Chalome Gonzalez: Definitely go for it, but I think you have to be different. If you can find one thing about your business that is different from others, you will stand out. I could have kept making t-shirts with no theme, no reason, like all the screen printers in the central valley, but I saw a lack in folklórico inspired wear and tapped into that. So my advice is to find something that isn’t out there on the market or try to make your business a little different from all of the other businesses like it. If you like doing it, keep doing it! To me, designing and creating shirts is not work because I love it. I can spend all day doing it and I’m happy.

Thank you Chalome for agreeing to be interviewed. I hope everyone checks out Miicamisa Folk-Urban Wear’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to purchase some of the latest folklórico fashion.

Photos courtesy of MiiCamisa Folk-Urban Wear.

Folklorico Inspired graduation cap

 

You know you dance folklorico if you rhinestone a picture of a folklorico dancers on your graduation cap.  Design courtesy of DG Designs.

DIY Costume Accessories

A lot of folkloristas I know design their own headpieces for their costumes. For my DIY for my headpiece, I dyed the flower turquoise and added turquoise glitter from puffy paint. It is beautiful, but different. It adds sparkle to any costume which requires flowers. I prefer this look for a huge show with an audience that prefers seeing over the top explosion of color and pizzazz. I am unsure if the traditionalists will care for this too much.

I can’t give myself credit for creating this list but I must share it with the folklorico world.  I have seen it for several years and I hope to add more items as the years go on (#35)

-Sabrina

1. You dance folklorico down the hall way instead of walking.

2. You do jarabes y caretillas while waiting in line

3. You perform calmly before crowds, yet suffer anxiety during any type of evaluation or interview.

4. You are well coordinated in folklorico, but you trip over your own feet when walking.

5. A new leotard or a new pair of folklorico shoes make your day.

6. You walk with your feet pointing because of the “ballet” that’s incorporated with our folklorico dancing.

7. You use any floor to practice your steps.

8. You hear Mexican sones at home/events/restaurants, and you need to dance.

9. The top shelf in your closet is filled with your old costumes and dance shoes.

10. You believe that Amalia Hernandez was the best choreographer/maestra EVER.

11. The kitchen and living room have scratches from your folklorico shoes.

12. You can talk about the art of folklorico dancing all day to people who don’t care.

13. When you can’t sit still when you hear folklorico songs.

14. All your friends make fun of you cuz when you stand in a diagonal, diamond, rectangle or a line, because they don’t get the whole concept of choreography and positions.

15. That with every song that comes on at a folklorico or mariachi event you are one of the first ones to start dancing it, even it’s just you or a group of friends.

16. You noticed every mistake made at any folklorico performance, dance movie or TV show. 17. You get all excited when you see any coverage on the news or TV commercial where you hear mariachi music or see folklorico dancers.

18. You are always on the look out for that perfect piece of wood to practice at home on. (Don’t tell me you don’t, cuz you know you do).

19. When you go clubbin and you STOMP while dancing salsa, merengue and even bachata.

20. You get all excited when reading this and cant believe that they FINALLY made one for us. 21. When you can dance for a week straight at ANGF and get teary eyed at its “clausura”.

22. When you jam out to Folklorico music in your car!

23. Every vacation is planned around some kind of event, show, taller, conference, etc.

24. You have more old botines than regular shoes.

25. You know that Miguelito’s is not the local restaurant.

26. You know when the pay-per-song mariachi is chopping out verses to make the song shorter.

27. When you have taught more than 30 years and can’t quit.

28. You refer to Rafael Zamarippa as the “Godfather”.

29. When you come across a Mariachi in a Restaurant you ALWAYS request a “Son”. (As opposed to everyone else who ask’s for rancheras or cumbias or any other nonsense! puros sones!

30. (Guys) you have 3 or more white collared shirts and they ALL have rust stains from the hangers!…(for the hardcore performing bunch)

31. When you think it looks and feels normal to wear BOOTS with SHORTS! Lo

32. When you take better care of your folklorico cd’s than your other cd’s. The floklorico ones are in the original cases and stored away. The others are stacked all over the place out of the cases.

33. You take better care of your dance shoes/botines than your regular shoes. You make sure they are polished, the rubber on the bottom is nice and fresh, you tape your nails when you have to dance outside on concrete. But the others can fall apart and you don’t care. (well maybe you do)

34. When you buy regular shoes you look for nice hard leather soles on them so you can dance at parties without your botines. (that’s me )

35. When you keep thinking of things to add to this growing list. (LOL that’s all of us)

36. When you think or hear of the word “borracho” you don’t necessarily think of a drunk guy.

37. you can name any son a mariachi plays and then dance it in the middle of a restaurant while your friends/family look on in embarrassment.

38. You (girls) have more than 2 pairs of filigrana earrings that you don’t just wear to performances!

39. You (girls) try to fit your rebozos into your everyday wardrobe!

40. You get drunk listening to mariachis play “La Negra” and then proceed to dance it with full-blown choreography!! If you went to ANGF this year, you definitely did this!!

41. When you ask the mariachi at the restaurant to play Casacabel or El Son Veracruzano and they give you that WIDE EYED look cuz they know you just requested it to test them. LOL!

42. When you plan a dance member’s birthday after a rehearsal or performance cuz it’s a good way to have everyone there and they can’t get out of it.

43. when you go to a record store and you always go through the SLIM pickins a the MEXICO section in the hopes to find a good Folklorico CD but then you are never really up to date and the stuff on the radio.

44. You never know the names of current music but you know what son or jarabe is coming on by the first few notes.

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