For those who are not familiar with ballet folklorico, it is a type of dance that heavily relies on footwork, which can be broken down into four parts: the toes, heels, soles and balls. Ballet folklorico is a traditional dance that can take many forms depending on the state and region it comes from in Mexico. Dance routines may depict an animal, historical event or element of a local lifestyle. Performers may have multiple colorful costumes representing the different dance routines. For women, one of the traditional costumes is a long, colorful skirt that allows for fanning and twirling for certain dance routines; likewise, men may use accessories like machetes and sombreros.
YES Prep is proud to be the home to a ballet folklorico dance group, hailing from YES Prep Southwest Secondary.
The origins of Southwest’s Origen ballet folklorico
In 2017, YES Prep Southwest Secondary started its very own ballet folklorico dance team Origen after a group of students were inspired by a folklorico performance at the 2017 Latinx Leadership Summit. This group of students connected with Brian Chavez, manager of student enrichment, and held an interest meeting to get a feel for how many students would be interested in joining a ballet folklorico dance team. By the end of the school year, Southwest had formed their very own official ballet folklorico.
With nine founding group members, Bianca Perez, dean of instruction and 12th-grade level chair, was tapped to lead the dance group. Perez had been involved with folklorico nearly all her life and was ready to teach the students all she had learned along the way. Origen is now led by Perez and Aimee Martinez, psychology teacher. Like Perez, Martinez made for a great second sponsor because of her experience in dancing folklorico.
Where Origen is today
Today, Origen has grown to become a large dance team of 22 student performers with the majority coming from the high school grade levels. Meeting three times a week to practice, the student performers have time to polish up their dancing skills and ensure their performances are performed beautifully.
While they haven't entered a competition yet, Origen is proud to have performed in front of large audiences at several YES Prep schools. The dance group is called in to perform at special events like Latinx Heritage Month assemblies and other celebrations and holiday events.
Expressing Latinx identity through dance
For the Southwest students involved in ballet folklorico, it is not simply a recreational dance team for them. With folklorico tracing back to the ceremonial and social dance of indigenous people living in Mexico, the students feel connected to their Latin roots through this way of dance. Leticia Aguilar, a current junior, shared, “I am very excited to take part in folklorico because of the culture that is rooted in the different folklorico routines.”
The Southwest community is excited to be able to offer this extracurricular activity that so beautifully connects our Latinx students to a form of expression that speaks to their identity, and in turn be able to share with our entire YES Prep community the beauty of this style of dance from Latin America.
If you are a Southwest Secondary student and are interested being part of Origen, please contact Ms. Perez or Ms. Martinez.
If you are interested in inviting Origen to perform at one of your events, or would like to learn how you can support our ballet folklorico dance group, please email Aimee Martinez at email@example.com.
Make sure to follow Origen on their Instagram page @origenfolklorico.
About the sponsors
Bianca Perez is a dean of instruction and 12th-grade level chair at YES Prep Southwest Secondary. Perez joined the Maverick family in 2016 after graduating from the University of Houston with her bachelor’s degree in French. During her free time, she enjoys going to yoga classes, taking long walks with her dog and husband and exploring Houston’s ever-growing food scene.
Aimee Martinez is a psychology teacher at YES Prep Southwest Secondary. Aimee joined the Maverick family in 2016 after graduating from St. Edward’s University with her bachelor’s degree in psychology. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, cooking and exploring new parks and trails around the Houston area.