Ballet Folklorico dancers win big in national competition
Photo by Eduardo Martinez.
Two busloads of BYNC Ballet Folklorico dancers brought home more than a dozen awards from the 2016 ACADEZ (Academia de la Danza Amalia Hernandez) National Folklorico/ Contemporary Dance Competition in early April.
Around 100 dancers from across the Southwest Side participated in the competition, which was held in San Antonio April 8-9 at the Scottish Rite Theatre.
“It’s so amazing that they are able to go to Texas and come in first against ballets from New York, California and around the country,” BYNC President Craig Chico said. “I’m so proud of them, I can’t even put it into words.”
The dancers participated in 15 different categories and won 10 first place titles, three second place titles, one best children’s dance and one third place title. The dancers also won the “Best of the Best,” which is the highest medal awarded at ACADEZ.
And while winning is wonderful, Jorge Emilio Corona, interim director of the BYNC Ballet Folklorico program said the most rewarding aspect of his work is bringing people together to learn about Mexican culture through dance.
“They prefer to make a family right here, dancing with us, instead of on the streets, doing other things,” Corona said. “It’s okay if the people are with us and not in front of a T.V. or on their cell phones playing games.”
The program is truly a family affair. In the weeks leading up to the competition, the BYNC conference room was transformed into a makeshift sewing workshop as mothers toiled late into the night to design, stitch and clean more than 300 costumes, including hats, shoes and all the other accessories.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s amazing. It’s amazing when you see the results, when you see the trophies, when you see other people are working with you, when you have the trust of people,” Corona said.
In early March, some of the dancers had the opportunity to work with Maestro Gilberto Limas, a renowned dance instructor who runs his own dance school in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas.
Limas has been studying the art of ballet folkloric dance for more than 40 years. He brought his two children, Meztli and Netzari to help with the dance workshop, which focused on teaching the style of Tamaulipas.
In the past, Limas served as a competition judge, but this year, he was a part of a large group of choreographers who collaborated with ACADEZ to offer workshops to preserve the rich cultural tradition.
This year also marked the first time the dancers competed in the national competition without Maestro Salvador Cisneros, the longtime ballet folklorico program director who passed away late last summer.
Corona, who worked under Cisneros for more than a decade, said this competition was very emotional. Cisneros was so highly regarded as a leader in folkloric dance that Corona was given a posthumous award to honor Cisneros’ commitment to teaching people of all ages the Mexican tradition.
“It’s difficult, because in all the past years, he was with us,” Corona said. “[This year] we danced in memory of Maestro.”
Norma Manzo, a ballet mom who runs the computer lab at the BYNC has been a volunteer of ballet folklorico for many years.
“We feel sad, but [at] the same moment, we feel excited, because the students and the parents said they feel Maestro is here,” Manzo said. “He is with us, he watched the kids and the parents. He is in our hearts always.”