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Ballet Folklórico de Spokane helps students connect with their roots

Photo Credit: Photography by Kitz

Ballet Folklórico de Spokane promotes culture in the Hispanic Latine community through activities and strategies designed to encourage knowledge, appreciation, and preservation of cultural and artistic expressions. 

Folklórico participates in cultural events, festivals, exhibitions, fairs, and educational activities, such as workshops, talks, and classes on history, music, literature, gastronomy, and other cultural interest of the Hispanic Latino community in Spokane.

The program aims to create an environment where the Hispanic-Latine community can explore and celebrate its culture and heritage while promoting cultural inclusion and diversity in broader society. Additionally, this program positively impacts the self-esteem and cultural identity of members of the Hispanic-Latine community, which may lead to increased civic and community participation.

In 2023, the group comprised 16 individuals, ages 12 and up, who wanted to be close to their roots and learn to dance. They are now performing at cultural events, and the group keeps growing.

Mexican Ballet Folklórico teacher Laura León teaches the dances and prepares other students to teach the group. León is from Mexico City, but she was born in Jalapa, Veracruz. 

Photo: From top right to left, Ballet Folklórico de Spokane Mexican teacher Laura León is wearing a traditional Ballet Folklórico dress during the Viva Vino Gala event.

Her passion for the art of dancing started when she was little. 

"I like dance and learned all the Mexican dances since I was four. Since then, I started dancing, and I haven't stopped doing it. It makes me very happy, and I am very proud to be able to teach and share these experiences about this beautiful and colorful art with all the people who also like to dance," León said.

León studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She danced there in pilot groups for nine years and then completed a diploma in Mexican Traditional Dance.

León teaches more than dancing. She also educates dancers about everything behind the art of dancing.

"Understanding where the music comes from, the dances, why they dance like that, the costumes and fabrics, what they represent, and their meaning is important and something that I try to teach the dancers," León said.

One of the advanced dancers, Celeste Bravo, a senior at Gonzaga University and a part-time 'Cosechando Esperanza' employee at Nuestras Raíces, also helps León by teaching beginner folklórico classes, which is a way for her to give back to her Spokane community.

For Bravo, being part of folklórico has been something she has wanted to do since she was a little girl.

Photo: Ballet Folklórico de Spokane dancer Celeste Bravo performing at Hispanic-Latine Graduation Ceremony.

"Being part of folklórico means that I'm part of something that keeps me in touch with my culture, gives me a sense of community, provides me with a fun hobby, and a great way to unwind," Bravo said. 

Another Folklórico intermedia dancer, Jennifer Rodriguez, said she never found an opportunity to be part of folklórico until she arrived in Spokane. Being part of this team has allowed Rodriguez to unlock a connection with her culture that she hadn't been able to before.

Through the dance and songs, she said she has been able to be a small example of what being Mexican is all about, especially in a city that is growing to be more diverse.

"Showing my Mexican pride through a dance as beautiful as folklórico has allowed me to appreciate where I come from that much more," Rodriguez said. 

Photo: From left to right in the blue dress, Ballet Folklórico de Spokane dancer Jennifer Rodriguez during Dia de los Muertos event 2023.

Ballet Folklórico de Spokane is open to youth 12 years old and up. Classes are held Tuesday through Wednesday, from 5:15 to 7 p.m., at Nuestras Raices Centro Comunitario, at 1214 E Sprague Ave.

Folklórico de Spokane has participated in many cultural events in the Inland Northwest, including Día de Los Muertos, Viva Vino Gala, Tacos Y Tequila Festival, Feast Fest, Philippines History Month, Adobo Y Mas, Around the World in a Day, HBPA Hispanic-Latine Graduation Ceremony, Stevens Elementary Hispanic Heritage Month, and more cultural events around Spokane. 

The group is always available to dance at other community and cultural events upon request and availability. If you need more information about Folklórico de Spokane, visit Cultura website or follow their social media on Facebook or Instagram.

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