Through the BYNC Ballet Folklorico, children and young adults learn and perform traditional folk dances from across the entire country of Mexico and from all periods of Mexican History: Pre-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Mestizo. In addition to the steps and choreography, the children learn the history and meaning of each dance.
The Ballet Folklorico is led by Salvador Cisneros, formerly the director of the Casas de la Cultura in Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico. Sr. Cisneros also has two assistant instructors, both professional dancers from Guanajuato. Classes are formal, even though they are held in the BYNC’s crowded lobby after office hours. The children, who address Sr. Cisneros as “Maestro,” are silent and attentive when he speaks. The classes are rigorous, as the children dance constantly, learning new steps and dances and practicing those they already know. By the end of class, they are out of breath, often sweaty and tired.
Between the two locations, the Ballet Folklorico is divided into six groups based on age and skill level. The three beginners’ level groups and the family group (parents included) meet twice a week, while the two advanced performing troupes meet three times a week. The duration of a class is between 1 ½ and 2 hours. The classes begin with warm-ups and stretches, and then proceed to practicing the actual dances. In addition, whenever a new dance is introduced, the Maestro spends at least twenty minutes explaining the history and significance of the dance.
When a child is enrolled, he or she will begin in one of the beginners’ groups. If the child shows discipline and dedication to mastering the art of Ballet Folklorico, they may be asked to join the advanced group after a certain level of technical ability is attained. While participating in the beginning group, the participants will perform at schools, churches, and community events. When participating in the advanced groups, the participants will be expected to perform in professional settings.
The performing troupes are outstanding and have a very busy schedule, with approximately 150 performances a year. They have performed at the Taste of Chicago, Michigan State University, Purdue University, Six Flags Gurnee, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and at numerous churches, schools, and community events throughout Chicagoland. The children are eager to perform anywhere, but are particularly pleased to showcase their heritage in non-Latino settings. The performing troupes have also won several national championships, 4 times (in 1999, 2005, 2007, and 2008) at the Viva Aztlan Dance Competition in Lubbock, Texas; and another in 2005 at the National Championship of Challenge USA in Los Angeles.
Please call Salvador Cisneros for more information, (773) 523-4416.