UTRGV Ballet Folklórico and Mariachi Juvenil Aztlán earn trip to nation’s capital

BY Melissa Vasquez

EDINBURG – The UTRGV Ballet Folklórico and the university’s Mariachi Juvenil Aztlán spent part of Spring Break performing their hearts out at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) South Conference.

Their dedication and hard work earned them accolades and a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in June.

The UTRGV Ballet Folklórico, accompanied the Mariachi Juvenil Aztlán, was deemed one of the top 10 presentations for its elegant choreography of dance and music from the Mexican state of Puebla. Nationally recognized adjudicators made the selection based on artistic excellence and merit.

The dance troupe – under the direction of Francisco Muñoz, artistic director and interim chair of the Dance Program – along with the mariachi ensemble – under the direction of Francisco Loera, School of Music lecturer – will advance to the 2016 National College Dance Festival, June 8-11 at The Kennedy Center.

The National College Dance Festival provides a showcase for the outstanding quality of choreography and performance that is being created on college and university campuses.

“This special recognition proves that our faculty and our students work hard and go the extra mile to excel and reach their goals,” said Dr. Dahlia Guerra, UTRGV assistant vice president for Public Art. “Our excellent faculty inspire and mentor the students at UTRGV to achieve their dreams, and no dream is out of reach.”

The ACDA South Conference was held at the University of Southern Mississippi, where more than 45 college and university dance programs attended from across the nation and competed March 11-14.

The Ballet Folklórico performance, titled “Puebla – Los Chinacos (1994),” was choreographed by renowned guest artist Rafael Zamarripa and restaged by Muñoz. The performance was described as “a beautifully executed dance in the tradition of Mexican folklórico. The dancers and musicians personify the rich cultural tapestry of Mexico with precision, percussive footwork and vibrant costumes transforming the stage into a celebration of community.”

This is not the first time the university Ballet Folklórico has advanced to the National College Dance Festival. They performed at the festival in 2012 and 2014 under the umbrella of The University of Texas-Pan American, a UTRGV legacy institution.

The Mariachi Juvenil Aztlán is UTRGV’s newest mariachi troupe, made up primarily of freshman music students, and already is making a name for itself on the university mariachi circuit. In November 2015, the group took first place in the university-level group competition of the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio.

“These two performing ensembles exemplify hard work and a consistent pursuit of excellence,” Guerra said. “They also represent the cultural heritage of our region and bring pride to our community. It is a great honor for our university to have our students recognized by experts in the fields of music and dance.”