North Texas Daily

Folklorico de North Texas attempts to find its footing

Folklorico de North Texas attempts to find its footing

Folklorico de North Texas attempts to find its footing
May 17
10:00 2018

The title slide of a PowerPoint that reads “Folklorico de North Texas” is projected onto the screen as Mariachi music lightly plays in Room 104 of the General Academic Building. This is the start to a meeting for a new student organization aiming to teach traditional Mexican dances and share Latino culture.

Folklorico de North Texas is hitting the ground running and wants to establish itself on campus as soon as possible, starting with dance rehearsals this summer.

The idea for Folklorico de North Texas was conceived when Spanish and international studies junior Allen Dominguez Anzo and anthropology junior Andrea Lopez Garza saw a girl on campus dressed in folklorico costume — but not correctly. The two were inspired to correctly represent the culture with the help of Dr. Roberto Calderon, a Mexican-American studies professor.

“We literally applied two days before the application closed,” Anzo said. “If it wasn’t because Jasmine knew Professor Calderon, we would not be here right now.”

Political science senior Jasmine Romero, the organization’s event coordinator, hopes the organization will be a way for Latinos at UNT to connect with one another. The fact that Romero didn’t become acquainted with anyone of Latino culture until her sophomore year fueled her interest in being part of Folklorico de North Texas.

“One of the reasons why we made this organization is that we feel the Latino/Mexican culture doesn’t have that much of a presence on campus, and this is one way to put it out there for the people who are Latino to learn more about it,” Romero said. “A lot of people nowadays were never raised with that stuff, so they themselves are learning. They say we’re a Latino-serving institute, but then you look around and it’s like, ‘Well, where are the Latinos?’”

Romero is included in that group of Latinos who did not grow up immersed in culture and is excited to be exposed to more of it through the club next semester. Romero said she is looking forward to the process of learning the dances along with the other members.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to be part of this group is because when I was little, I was only taught a little bit of [my family’s] dances,” Romero said. “I was never brought up with a lot of culture. A lot of what I know and what I do is from self-learning. I think that’s one of the thing I’m looking most looking forward to: being able to learn and teach dance and then being able to pass it on to my kids.”

Throughout the meeting, the executive members emphasize their desires for other ethnicities to join Folklorico, even at one point reassuring a non-Latino attendant she is not appropriating by joining the club.

“It’s good to know other people’s cultures,” Romero said. “If you learn how to dance something and you start listening to the music, you’re going to start wondering other things and you’re going to start researching the culture.”

Biology sophomore Nardos Kiros is an example of someone outside of Latino culture who is involved in the organization. Kiros, vice resident of the club, was recruited by Garza to offer an outside, non-Latino perspective.

“Right now I’m studying Spanish, so I just wanted to learn more about the culture and also practice my Spanish,” Kiros said. “This is my first time learning this, so I’m going to be learning with everyone else.”

Garza is the member with the most dance experience, having danced folklorico as a child and again for three years in high school.

“I grew up in Mexico, so over there it’s very much an institution,” Garza said. “You go through school and you do the folklorico for the community.”

A frequent sentiment in Folklorico de North Texas’ presentation is its mission to bring a sense of progression to the traditional aspects of folklorico concerning gender roles. Garza and Anzo bonded over the frustration of not being allowed to dance the traditionally male parts as children.

“Growing up, I was quite the tomboy,” Garza said. “I was the stereotype: wore shorts, climbed trees, you name it. There’s this dance called ‘De Los Machetes’ where they dance with machetes. It’s really cool, but it’s for men. I wanted to participate in it but I was told you can’t because you’re a girl.”

They view Folklorico de North Texas as an opportunity for them and other members to freely explore every aspect of folklorico regardless of gender.

“It shouldn’t matter if I’m a girl or if you’re a guy and you want to do the female part — go for it,” Garza said. “If you think about Mexican culture in general, there’s quite a [machismo element to it] — its a very dominant thing. We talk about holding onto traditions, but I feel like as members of a culture we should have the ability to challenge it at the same time.”

Featured Image: New student organization Folklórico de North Texas held an informational meeting on April 30. The group’s events will begin next semester. Mallory Cammarata 

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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