TAMIU Ballet Folklórico Returns from International Conference in Mexico

Even in the heat of summer, students at Texas A&M International University continue to learn. Members of TAMIU Ballet Folklórico, as well as adjunct professor of dance and director and founder, Gabriela Mendoza-García, recently returned from the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos Conference in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.

The week-long conference introduced dancers to new maestros, dances and colleagues as nearly 400 dance teachers, folklorists, and students from all over the United States and Mexico participated. The trip was made possible by a grant from the City of Laredo, Texas Commission of the Arts, TAMIU Ballet Folklorico fundraisers, and students' funds.

TAMIU Ballet Folklorico participants included: Imelda Chapa, Lilliyana Kerby, Patricia Lucio, Andromeda Hall, Laura Leticia Gutiérrez, Iliana Hinojosa, Brenda Martínez, David Jones, Julio González, and Noe Flores. (photo)

Mendoza-García explained this is the fourth year TAMIU Ballet Folklórico has represented the University and the City of Laredo at this 30-year old conference. She said attendees were immersed in the dances and learned a great deal.

"Participants took three folklórico dance classes a day for the entire week. The maestros gave lectures on the costumes, culture, and history of the dances. Throughout the week there were performances by professional folklórico companies and musical groups. This year, dances from Huasteca Veracruzana, Jarocho Tradicional, Jarocho Contemporaneo, Danzas de Veracruz, and Nayarit, Sinaloa were taught," said Mendoza-García.

She explained that the professionals were truly exceptional.

"The dance companies included a performance by various children's folklórico groups from Xalapa, and Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad Veracruzana, directed by Miguel Veléz Arceo, with a special performance by Tlen-Huicani Xalapa's world-renowned Jarocho Band. This was truly a cultural experience. We got to meet the Jarochos from Veracruz, learn their dances, watch performances, and experience the food and atmosphere of Xalapa. Everyone could truly understand the music and dances of Mexico," she said.

First time attendee and four-year member of TAMIU Ballet Folklórico Iliana Hinojosa said that she learned more than just footwork.

"For me, it was a wonderful learning and exciting experience. I was able to learn different dances and their history, as well as the culture of the place where this conference took place. The ANGF Conference helped me grow as a person and dancer because I didn't only learn dances I will be able to use in the future, but to meet and share with people that have the same passion for dancing," she explained.

While at the conference, Mendoza-García was elected to a two-year term on the executive board of the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos Conference as membership chair.

"I was very surprised and am excited to begin my duties. I hope I can encourage more people to join TAMIU Ballet Folklórico and learn the dances of their Mexican heritage. It's fun, invigorating, educational and extremely good for you. Anyone interested in joining can register to take it as a credit class from 6 - 7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first class is August 26," she explained.

For more information about TAMIU Ballet Folklorico, please contact Gabriela Mendoza-García at 326-2654, visit offices in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, room 217B or e-mail gabym@tamiu.edu.

Registration for Fall 2003 will be held on Friday, Aug. 22. Classes begin Aug. 25 with late registration underway from Aug. 25-29.

For more information, contact the Office of the Registrar at 326.2250.

With State budget cuts, the University is observing a four-day, 10-hour a day schedule this summer with office hours from 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Offices are closed Fridays.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu