ELKO – White, lace-up shoes collided with the floor in a rhythmic cacophony. Pink, green, purple and yellow skirts swirled through the air as young, folkloric dancers practiced their moves. The studio echoed with laughter, but the seriousness of what these children were doing could be seen as a conscious effort on the faces of even the youngest participants. These children are proud of the culture they represent.
“I have performed for four years,” said 13-year-old Alyssa Cortes. “I was trying out different sports. I tried soccer and ballet. My aunts always taught me so I guess I had dancing in my blood.”
The youths will get a chance to share their culture next week at the Mexican Folkloric Ballet Gala.
“The news for this year is that we now have our own space,” instructor Valentina Ortiz said.
Their new operation is located at 1352 Idaho St. in the Rancho Plaza. Some of the older participants practice at Southside Elementary because the new facility is not big enough to accommodate the 60 students enrolled in the program.
Another new accomplishment is that the group received a grant from the Nevada Arts Council. The money is earmarked to help with this year’s performance, which begins at 5 p.m. April 6 at the Elko Convention Center.
“I am so proud to finally see some of the oldest participants take such pride and take the responsibility to teach one of the groups,” Ortiz said. “From the get-go this is what I had in mind, the newer generations and the fresh ideas. I wanted to see the evolution of our youth.”
According to Ortiz, Yesika Avila, a former student turned teacher, went to Zacatecas over the summer and saw the International Folkloric Festival. The event hosts numerous countries and their folk dancing styles.
“She was there for a full two weeks worth of dancing,” Ortiz said. “It’s amazing. If you can picture the volcanic buildings and cobblestone streets covered with dancers.”
Ortiz said their upcoming performance concentrates on Puebla in the heart of Mexico where pre-Hispanic dance started. They will also perform dances from Aguascalientes, Jalisco and Sinaloa.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” 13-year-old Kassandra Covarrubios said. “My other two sisters are doing this, too. This is my second year doing this. When I wasn’t doing dance I would always dance with my dad at my house.”
Covarrubios has been dancing with the company for two years.
Jazmin Vazquez, also 13-years old, has been dancing for four years.
“It’s been a good journey these four years,” she said. “I heard of Mexican dancing when I was seven. It sounded interesting. You need to practice a lot to understand, to make it look good when we perform so we can inspire other people to dance and enter the company.”
Vazquez is very excited about this year’s dresses. According to her, the dresses coordinate well with the production theme.
“I brought three suitcases of fabric back from Mexico,” Ortiz said, laughing.
Bertha Avila is the main dressmaker for the company.