Ballet Folklórico Class Connects Family at A&M International

It is a tale of flowing skirts and family. Imelda G. Chapa, senior at Texas A&M International University, has been dancing folkloric dances of Mexico for three years. This Fall, her younger sister, Gabriela, will start Ballet Folklórico classes along with her first semester of college at A&M International. Their younger brother, Sergio, and their cousin, Ruben, have been dancing in the children's class for a year. Together, they are learning about their culture and appreciating each other's company.

This Fall, area children can join Chapa and her family in this cultural experience by registering for Ballet Folklórico classes at A&M International. Classes are open to children ages five to 18 and previous dance experience is not required.

Classes are on Saturdays in the University Kinesiology/Convocation Building, room 204. Dates are as follows: Session I: Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6 and Session II: Oct. 13, 20, Nov. 3, 10, 17. The cost is $30 per session or $50 for both Sessions I and II. Missed classes may not be made up. Class times are: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m., grades 7th - 12th (ages 12 - 18); 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., grades 4th - 6th (ages 8 - 11); and 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., grades 1st - 3rd (ages 5 - 7).

Imelda says she enjoys exploring her roots with her family. When she dances, Imelda says she feels her Mexican heritage within her and the enjoyment of entertaining others. She plans to keep the art in her life, even after she leaves the University.

"When I dance, I want to entertain others and myself forever. I feel enthusiasm, a spark that entices me to keep on doing what I do. I actually feel the music inside me. When I become a secondary school teacher, I plan to sponsor or teach folklórico. I also plan to keep being a member of the Ballet Folklórico after I graduate," Imelda said.

Her love of the dance eventually enticed other family members to try folklórico. Imelda explained how her brother and sister became interested once they saw her practicing at home.

"One time, my sister saw me practicing and I saw interest in her face. I began to teach her some of the steps and she became delighted once she could do them. My little brother would join me as my partner and mimic my steps. He loves the Mexican sones," Imelda said.

Her sister surprised Chapa by registering for Ballet Folklórico classes.

"I had no idea my sister Gabby would want to join. She gave me a surprise by registering for it. Gabby told me she had liked the art once I joined and she would like to be a part of it," Imelda said.

Because of her brother's interest, Imelda asked him, and later her cousin, if they would like to join the children's Ballet Folklórico class and was delighted when both registered.

"My brother said he would join as long as he had a buddy or a relative with him so that he wouldn't feel lonely. My cousin willingly agreed since he had already been involved in this type of dancing when he was younger," said Imelda.

Students joining the class will learn the basics of "zapatedo" footwork and then master the fundamentals of Mexican Ballet Folklórico, including correct skirt work, dance techniques, and performance style. Classes will build strength, balance, posture, grace and discipline.

For more information, please contact the Office of Special Programs by phone, 326-2700, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 332.

University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

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