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Folxlórico creates community on and off campus through Mexican folklorico dance

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Article Originally Published by Haley Arnold on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

By Isabel Anes

As members of Folxlórico gather in a small studio, a person holding a brown guitar says his hellos before going off into a corner to tune his instrument. As the group gathers around him, Folxlórico president Melodie Hernandez joins him at his side, and the pair begins to sing ‘Las Mañanitas’ before the start of practice.

Folxlórico, previously known as Folklorico de North Texas, was established during the spring of 2018 as the first organization of its kind at UNT. Folxlórico is an organization that focuses on traditional Mexican folklorico dance. The group wanted to be a representation of the Latinx culture on and off campus, and now, they have achieved that goal because of a recent rebranding.

The rebranding kicked off a year ago when Mark Baker-Sanchez, a recent UNT graduate, chose Folxlórico as his nonprofit for a project in one of his classes. Hernandez said Baker-Sanchez “saw more potential” in what the organization could become.

One of the biggest changes for the organization was dropping the ‘North Texas’ from their name and changing the ‘k’ in Folklorico to an ‘x.’ This change goes hand in hand with the Latinx movement currently sweeping the nation.

“We included the ‘x’ because similar to Latinx — it’s inclusive of genders and reinforces the plurality of it,” Hernandez said. “We did that because it felt more welcoming. As soon as we changed it, we were like, ‘yeah, this is what we’re meant to be.’”

Hernandez said with this change, the organization no longer feels tied to the gender roles and stereotypes that may coincide with traditional folklorico dance. It allows them to not only grow as a group, but also within the community as they show through their dances more modern twists on choreography and inclusivity.

Despite the positive backing behind the name change, Hernandez did note there was a little controversy with the adding of the ‘x’ after the group was featured in D Magazine this past fall. She stated some people were questioning the change, not fully understanding why the ‘x’ was important, and they felt as though the organization was taking away meaning from the culture.

“We’re not taking away the meaning of Latina and Latino,” Hernandez said. “Latinx is just to include everybody.”

The change also allows the group to reach out to a much bigger community rather than being confined strictly to the North Texas campus. For example, the organization currently teaches folklorico to young students at Lake Dallas Elementary. This partnership was established in the spring of 2019 when Folxlórico treasurer Alonso Rodriguez, an alum the elementary school, discovered the school had received a grant to promote cultural awareness.

Lake Dallas established a folklorico group with the grant, but had no one who was able to instruct it. For Rodriguez, partnering up with the school was something he believed they could make really big together.

“Growing up in that community, there’s never been something like [folklorico],” Rodriguez said. “I wanted to make sure that this sticks at the school. I want it to be a staple [in] the school and the district.”

Rodriguez said he never had something to help him connect with his culture when he was younger. Now, he hopes he can help the new generation have what he never did through this partnership.

“It helps a lot with the identity of the kids,” Rodriguez said. “[By] allowing them to really embrace who they are. What’s not to love about that?”

At its conception, Folxlórico started the organization with about eight dancers but has since increased to 30 dancers and several non-dancing members who participate in socials, behind the scenes and practices.

The inclusivity and openness of the new name and group are noted to be factors behind the organization’s growth in membership over the past six months.

“It definitely feels a lot better to be open and loving [toward] people and not to be as critical as the culture makes it seem we are,” said Folxlórico vice president Sandra Rodriguez. “I think that’s brought a lot of our dancers and us together.”

For chemistry junior Isela Escobedo, the representation and communal aspect of the organization was one of the reasons she decided to join this past fall.

“Since I’m really far away from home, this feels like a piece of home for me,” Escobedo said. “I was afraid that coming here — I wouldn’t feel my culture or feel really lost.”

With being 10 hours away from home, one thing Escobedo is really excited for this semester, is for her parents to come up from Los Fresnos to watch their annual showcase.

Seeing last year’s showcase come together, Hernandez said, was stressful and a lot to take in for the organization, but was very rewarding in the end. This year, Hernandez hopes the showcase can match what they produced last year but on a much bigger scale.

With its rapid growth, the organization plans to feature a lot more regions of Mexico and make it a more immersive experience. They also hope through this showcase, the audience can see all the hard work that gets put into producing it.

“I want it to be more educational and interactive, and being able to leave the audience with an emotional impact,” Hernandez said. “Something they can be like, ‘wow, I’ve never seen something like that before.’”

Now inching closer to its second anniversary, the organization continues to reach out to those on and off campus, whether it be through performances or community service. Hernandez said one thing is for certain, though — there is nothing else like it.

“I’ve never seen something like Folxlórico on campus,” Hernandez said. “Something so beautiful, extravagant and educational at the same time. I think it’s a big impact.”

Featured Image: Folxlórico Vice President Sandra Rodriguez buckles her dancing shoes before practice on Feb. 3, 2020. Image by Isabel Anes

Source: North Texas Daily

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