It has been a successful and exciting season for the Sam Houston State University Ballet Folklorico team, a dance group that performs traditional Mexican dance.
Graduate Assistant for Leadership Programs Nayeli Lopez started the organization and said the group has grown immensely since its establishment.
“I started the organization in August 2013 with five members,” Lopez said. “Our first performance was for the leukemia and lymphoma blood cancer event in The Woodlands. I have been directing the group since. The group increased to 10 dancers by the spring of 2014 and now has 31 dancers.”
The Ballet Folklorico team gave its final performance of the semester Sunday with an event titled Noche de Folklore held at Huntsville Community Theater. Lopez said dances from across Mexico were on display at the end-of-year event.
“Noche de Folklore was such a great event,” Lopez said. “The show was amazing. The dancers killed it. They performed 17 dances from eight states from Mexico of Baja California Norte, Guerrero Costa Chica, Guerrero Tierra Caliente, Colima, Chihuahua, Michoacan, Veracruz and Jalisco. Some of our dancers danced on top of pots, others danced with a lit candle on their head, and some of our male dancers used machetes to dance with.”
Lopez said the group’s recent competition season was successful having traveled and competed with other groups from across Texas.
“We traveled on Feb. 28 and March 1 to compete at a state wide folklorico competition, Bailes de Mi Tierra, in Round Rock,” Lopez said. “We received four first place trophies in solo, duet, small ensemble and large group [competition]. We also received second place in a small ensemble, beating other universities across Texas. This is the second year in a row that Ballet Folklorico [won] first place.”
Lopez described the competitions as opportune experiences to learn about art and culture as well.
“The experiences at the competition were great because it was an educational opportunity for our students to experience the culture of many different dances,” Lopez said.
Preparation for these competitions required hours of hard work and dedication from the dancers. Lopez said they have a rigorous rehearsal schedule, but group members are committed despite obstacles that are sometimes thrown their way.
“Since January of 2015, we have been practicing outside in the Gazebo by Pritchett Field because we can no longer use the Rec with our dance shoes,” Lopez said. “We practice outside in the rain, in the heat, and…in the cold – even when it’s 40 degrees outside. The only time we canceled practice was when there was a tornado warning two weeks ago. We practice not until we get it right, but until we don’t get it wrong. The dancers are very dedicated and committed to the organization.”
Lopez said she loves leading the group because it makes her happy to teach students a new skill and watch them learn and grow in dancing.
“My favorite part in leading the organization is seeing the students come into the group with no prior experience, and then they blossom into dancers and performers,” Lopez said. “It is such a rewarding feeling being able to motivate and help other people become successful. I always want the best for them.”
Lopez also talked about what is next for the Ballet Folklorico team. In two weeks, the team will travel to Florida to perform at Walt Disney World.
Lopez said growing both the organization and university’s recognition is one goal the dance team strives for.
“We seek to bring back nationwide recognition to the university,” Lopez said. “It has been an amazing two years with this dance organization. I have loved seeing it grow. Always wishing the best for all of our dancers.”