Folklorico Dance as Inspiration

Way back when, as a young dancer I mistakenly thought that all the folklorico dances that I learned came from communities of people. It was until I entered graduate school that I realized that many of these dance were created specifically for the stage by Mexican choreographers. Many times the Mexican government sought ways to distinctly represent every state of Mexico through music and dance.

For example, the bailes mestizos of Sinala were choreographed for the stage in the 1930s by the Maestra Rosa Andrade along with musician Don Cuco Soto.  Maestros of Aguascalientes also created their own dances to represent the characteristics of their communities. So, la Pelea De Gallos was composed by Juan S. Garrido in 1945. This song was extremely popular within the community of Aguascalientes and adopted by the people. The first choreographers of this dance worked in collaboration. These teachers were María Elene Cardona, Asunción Gutiérrez and Jesús Velasco in 1962.  Other choreographed dances from Aguascalientes include: Danza de Ferrocarrileros, Son Vista Alegre, and Danza de Bordadoras.1 Of course we can’t forget Amalia Hernandez who used the corridos, melodies, and rhythms of the Revolutionary era (1910-1920) to create an entire suite of dances paying tribute to the men and women who lost their lives and fought during this time period.2

I argue that these choreographed dances have been accepted into the repertoire of folklorico dance companies throughout Mexico and the United States oftentimes without realizing that they are inspired by a community of people and not derived from them. Now, as folklorico dance practitioners I think it is important that we recognize these types of dances that were choreographed specifically for the stage. We also need to give credit to the work of Mexican choreographers who inspired our performances.   I also want to encourage dance practitioners living in the United States to create your own dances about our own communities using folklorico movement techniques. I know that there are a handful of us already doing just that. In what ways does your community inspire you to create your own folklorico dances?

Chicano Power! A choreography that I premiered in May 2016


  1. Angulo, Gabriel Uriarte, and Alicia Montaňo Villalobos. Danzas y Bailed de Sinaloa. Mexico: Colegio de Bachilleres del Estado de Sinaloa, 2000. Print.

      Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos 25 Congreso. 4-11 July. 1998,   Aguacalientes, Mexico.

  1. Aguirre, Gabriela, and Felipe Segura Escalona. El Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández. Mexico: Fomento Cultural Banamex, 1994. Print.

All photos courtesy of Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia

Copyright, 9/13/2017, Mendoza-Garcia

Gabriela Mendoza-García Ph.D. is an Artist and Scholar. She has her own dance school and company called the Gabriela Mendoza-García Ballet Folklórico in Laredo, Texas.  Dr. Mendoza-Garcia founded this group in 2013 and teaches children and adults of all ages. Her company consists of seasoned folklórico dancers with years of experience performing this art form. She teaches traditional Mexican folklórico dance pieces, as well as, works that are inspired by her scholarly research. Her scholarship includes: Dancing throughout Mexican History (1325-1910), History & Folklore booklet with an accompanying documentary sponsored by the Webb County Heritage Foundation, The Jarabe Tapatío: Imagining Race, Nation, Class and Gender in 1920s Mexico published by Oxford University Press, an on-line blog, writings for Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, and others.

10 thoughts on “Folklorico Dance as Inspiration

    • Hello Julio, thanks for sharing my post with your friends. I do think it is important that we recognize that some of our dances were created specifically for the stage. This is information that we need to pass on orally with our students. Good luck with your year! I saw your fabulous photos from your performances in Mexico. Kudos to you!


  1. LIlia Eskildsen

    Even more interesting, these choreographies have now been influencing traditional dance in Mexico and Mexican communities. It’s all a cycle, and even these “inspired” dances end up becoming part of who we are, so the job of creating a new choreography for a community, like you encourage, its a great responsibility, but something that must be done to build stronger community bonds! I can’t wait to have the opportunity to see what you have created, Gaby! 🙂


    • Hi Lily, yes dances do circulate. Have you read Choreographing Politics by Anthony Shay? He writes about how Amalia Hernandez had created a few dance moves for the Veracruz suite. She was asked to judge a competition in Veracruz and she was surprised to see that the locals had incorporated her moves. Yes, so it is very hard to separate it out because dance is always changing. Good luck with your studies!


      • Lilia Eskildsen

        Yes, I have! Pretty great book! It’s surprising how much the perspective on dance changes once you start seeing it with a more critical/academic eye. Dance has so much outreach and potential, and it’s important to recognize this. Loving your blog 🙂


      • Delia Munoz

        Yea looks very familiar, The Irene Gonzalez Project did something very similar to that, it would’ve been great to see this piece as well.


      • Hello Delia, Whew just finished performances for Mexico’s Independence from Spain so it took me awhile to respond. The piece that you are talking about is part of a suite of dances which I began choreographing in 2015. It is called Chicano Power and premiered in 2016. These are based upon my archival and ethnographic research on folklorico dance and the Chicano Movement. In this suite I used the protest songs from the Chicano Movement, folklorico dance techniques to comment on the ways that our people fought for social justice and re-affirmed their own identity. I am constantly up-dating and revising my choreography as I am doing with my writing. In this blog I have 2 photos featured from this suite of dance. The one with the jeans using the Corrido de Cesar Chavez to depict his call to action and highlights the march from Delano to Sacramento California and the protest. I have only shown this choreography in Laredo, Texas. Right now, I am busy writing and hope to have an article ready by December. After that, I would like to show this choreography alongside my research at folklorico dance conferences. If you would like to see it please encourage any organizers of such conferences to invite me to speak. Thanks


  2. Pingback: Folklorico Dance as an Invented Tradition | Gabriela Mendoza-Garcia Ballet Folklorico

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s