A Legacy of 30 Years: Ballet Folklórico Mexicano

Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York (Photo by Javier Gochis via Diario de Mexico USA)

The members of Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York (Mexican Folk Dance Troup of New York, or BFMNY) are getting ready to wear their Sunday best for their upcoming 35th anniversary celebration.

Cuco González, the group’s artistic director, is preparing a very special treat: a dance retrospective of the troupe’s history.

In an interview with Diario de México USA, the members of the company’s board of directors – Aldo Cano, Ofelia Medina, Esmeralda Hidalgo and Cuco González – agreed that the Ballet, founded by the Butrón Brothers in New York in 1983, emerged from a spirit of community.

Based on that premise, González wants to throw a party to “celebrate with the community. The spirit of the Ballet has always been communal and inclusive. That has defined Ballet Folklórico for the past 35 years. Thousands of people have come through here; not just Mexicans, but from many nationalities.”

More than just a dance company, the sense of belonging and identity it has inspired in its members for three and a half decades has turned the group into a family, said Aldo Cano, who experienced this firsthand when he arrived in the Big Apple.

“Ballet Folklórico came out of the Centro Mexicano de Nueva York, the first Mexican social and cultural organization in the Big Apple. BFMNY was created by the members of that group in 1983,” remembers Cano.

“In the beginning, it was just parents trying to teach Mexico’s culture and traditions to their children. They would gather with the family on Sunday afternoons, and those children grew up and learned to dance,” said Esmeralda Hidalgo, who does the group’s public relations.

“It was the children of those immigrant families who came to settle in New York who started the group. That is how Mexicans shared their culture with the community in which they were growing up,” added Cano.

Cuco González said that the folk group’s foundation is based on the families’ social coexistence.

“Respect starts when communities get to know each other,” he concluded.

A ballet company that has made history

In its 35 years of existence, the group has appeared on stages such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden, among others.

“As a cultural group, we have made history here in New York,” said González. “Similar organizations have disappeared, but the Ballet lives on.”

Ofelia Medina, the group’s treasurer, explained that her family is jealous of BFMNY, “because of the amount of time I dedicate to it. Beyond the pride we feel for our culture, we just love folklore. We love to dance!” she said.

Cano, also a member of the board of directors, said that “no one here gets paid for the activities they perform in the ballet. We do it purely for the love of art.”

Cano explained that all the work the members of the Ballet do to put on each show “is undoubtedly academic work. Folkore work is scholarly work.”

González, also on the board, said that members make their own costumes and that “we want them to stick to the tradition because image is very important.”

Next year, on the occasion of the group’s 35-year anniversary, González, “we will have an array of dances ranging from our first ones up until today’s. La Guelaguetza is our latest acquisition.” The Ballet recently took part in the latest edition of the traditional Oaxacan festival in New York.

[Editor’s note: The Ballet Folklórico’s next performance in Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Festival del Huapango in  Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.]

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