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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.

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ML & RudyAccording to Pew Research, 54 percent of adult internet users post photos and videos they have created themselves and 47 percent of adult internet users share photos and videos they have found on the internet (2013).  Folklórico dancers have endless opportunities to share their story with photos and videos.   From practices, performances, selfies, and paparazzi shots, the photos and videos provide folklórico social media administrators a chance to engage and interact with their audience.  In this blog post, I will share with you three tips on how I utilize photos and videos to share my story.

1)  If the photo/video is interesting to you, it most likely will be interesting to your audience.
No one knows your audience better than you do.  They are following you for a reason and choose to continue following you.  By posting photos and videos you find interesting, you are giving them a reason to continue following you.  When they like, comment positively, or share your post, they are praising you and sharing your story for you.

2) Let your followers see your world from your lens.
I encourage you to post a variety of photos and videos.  As I mentioned earlier, folklóristas have many opportunities to do this.  Give them a backstage pass to your world, because I guarantee they will love to see it.

3)  Sometimes, a successful post does not have to be all about you.
I encourage you to share photos and videos of other groups and artists.  A majority of the University Folklórico Summit posts do not mention the University Folklórico Summit at all.  We are always sharing photos and videos of collegiate folklórico groups because we want to showcase our audience and show the world the wonderful things they are doing.  By sharing their posts, they are more likely to share, like, or comment your posts.

I cannot wait to see how you will utilize photos and videos to engage with your audience.  I hope I have the pleasure to someday share one of your posts.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. (n.d.). Photo and Video Sharing Grow Online. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Photos-and-videos.aspx

Author’s Note: This post first appeared on the Danzantes Unidos blog when I was the co-director of the University Folklórico Summit 2014.  This post will always remain close to my heart because it launched my interest in blogging about folklorico.  I hope you enjoy this oldie but goodie.

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.”

I am super excited to be attending ¡Viva Fest! 2014 on July 25 – August 1 in San Jose, California. For those who don’t know, ¡Viva Fest! is San Jose’s annual Mexican Heritage and Mariachi Festival hosted by the Mexican Heritage Corporation.  This event features quality music and dance workshops that educate its attendees about the Mexican culture. This event has a lot in store for participants attending the 23rd annual event. Listed below is the top 5 reasons why folklóristas should attend ¡Viva Fest! 2014.

5. Networking with the folklórico community – Meeting people is very beneficial for one’s personal and professional life. I love networking with the folklórico community because we all share a common bond and passion. I am always amazed by the number of folklóristas I meet at the festivals/conferences and learning our six degrees of separation. Wherever you go, I feel a folklórista can find a folklórista to visit. I will be seeing my Nor Cal folklórista friends when I am at ¡Viva Fest!.

4. The Location – San Jose is about an hour away from San Francisco and is a great place to visit for all ages.  There are many events happening in Downtown San Jose throughout the month of July.  I plan to see The Tech Museum of Innovation and to explore the nightlife in Downtown San Jose.  I also want to make a pit stop at Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

The Tech Museum of Innovation Pier 39 San Francisco

3. The Price – According to the ¡Viva Fest! website, the registration fee for the dance workshops is $85 from July 1- July 20.  After July 20, the registration fee is $150.  If you do the math, it will cost about $12 to $13 a day for the classes.  I paid about $150 dollars for round-trip airfare from LAX/SNA to San Jose Airport.  I am hoping to pay $80-$90 per night on a hotel room and if multiple people share a room, it becomes cheaper.

Low Price

2. Quality Folklórico Instruction – Maria Luisa Colmenarez and Jose Tena are very influential maestros within the folklórico community.  They have done their own research on the different Mexican folk dance regions and have developed innovative choreographies. They both co-choreographed the Unofficial Guinness World Record for the Largest Mexican Folk Dance at Danzantes Unidos.  As maestros, they teach the steps and the cultural significance behind them.

My folklórico family jose tena

(I also heard that Rudy García will be guest teaching as well.)

1. An opportunity to perform with Mariachi Sol de Mexíco and Symphony Silicon Valley – I grew up listening to Mariachi Sol de Mexíco in my grandma’s car which makes this opportunity a dream come true for me.  All workshop participants will perform at the ¡Viva Fest! concert at San Jose State University on August 1.  I am positive every folklórista loves the opportunity to perform on a big stage with a live mariachi.  Do not forget your rancheras and your charros!

Mariachi-Sol-De-Mexico-De-Jose-Hernandez_583x336 Symphony Silicon Valley

If networking with the folklórico community, San Jose, a low price, quality folklórico instruction and an opportunity to perform with Mariachi Sol de Mexíco and Symphony Silicon Valley sounds appealing to you, you should attend ¡Viva Fest! .  As a folklórista blogger, it is my duty to inform you of quality workshops that will teach you about the Mexican culture and benefit you as a dancer.

For more information about ¡Viva Fest!, visit vivafest.org.