This weekend Fiesta De Reyes of Old Town California hosted the vibrant spectacle of the fourth annual Folklorico Competition.
Dance is of course best viewed in motion, so here are some highlights from the competition.
The stage exploded into an array of color as dancers twirled, like flowers unfolding to the sun. The audience watched, breathless, as young dancers tossed sword back and forth to one another, clanking the blades together in time to the music.
This is Baile folklórico (sometimes called ballet folklorico.) This unique dance style is deeply entrenched in the history of Mexico,and residents of San Diego were luck enough to be treated to the delightful display of grace and culture.
The free festival began with preliminaries at 11am sharp on Saturday, April 27th. After the first round of eliminations,the dancing resumed Sunday morning. If you missed it, an you’re planning on being in the San Diego area, be sure to catch the finals on May 4th, 2013 starting promptly at 9am to continue until noon.
Baile folklórico refers to various styles of Latin American dance which strive to bring local folk culture to life while employing traditional ballet movements and gestures. Various regions of the Southwestern United States and Mexico have folklorico dances that tell their stories. The style was originally concieved by Amalia Hernández in the 1950′s.
She was instrumental in preserving classical and folk dance techniques, assuring that the culture of the Mexican people was not lost forever. She established Ballet Folklorico Mexico as well as a dance school in Mexico City, Mexico to see that classical and folkloric techniques would survive through-out the generations.
If you go to see folklorico performed, the costumes are just as individualized as the dances themselves. In the Southwest regions of the United States, clothing tends to favor a more Western style, with denim pants rugged work shorts like those worn by the Gauchos of old.
In contrast to this, there is a strong Spanish influence in the wardrobe of dancers performing in the Federal District of Mexico. Here, wide brimmed hats are the norm, and pants or skirts with ornate galas down the side give an unmistakable flourish to the performers as they move.
Jalisco style can be identified by the deliciously bright colored skirts the dancers wear, and their lavish hair pieces. Chunky clog style heels are worn, and give a deep, resonate sound to the dancers, who click and clack to the lively rhythms.
Keep History Alive
History can be thought of as the memory of a people. Without our memories, who would we really be? Preserving things such as traditional dance, stories and costumes helps to give people an identity, a foundation for who they are and where they came from. If you are in San Diego, please participate in keeping this beautiful tradition alive by cheering on the finalists in the Fiesta De Reyes Folklorico Competition.
No matter where you are you can seek to preserve your local heritage and the collective memory of your region by supporting historical and cultural events around you. Check out museums and events in your area and volunteer your time if you can. It’s a great way to meet new people and educate yourself about the varied peoples who make up your local community what it is today.