Students joined Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles for a luncheon on Tuesday, Sept.17 at El Centro de Muchos Colores.
This event kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
Ballet Folklórico de Los Angeles, a Los Angeles based dance company founded in 2011, visited Fort Lewis for Fiesta on the Mesa.
Ballet Folklorico raised many topics of discussion during the lunch, most notably their interpretation of being Mexican American and their involvement in the Disney movie Coco, an Oscar winning animated film.
The room was full of laughter as the musicians and dancers talked amongst each other, with students chiming in from time to time with questions for the dancers.
The dancers began the luncheon by introducing themselves. Each dancer had a different perspective on what it meant to be Mexican American.
Larry Estrada, dancer with Ballet Folklórico since February 2013, began introductions stating that he is 3rdgeneration and grew up not identifying with Mexican culture whatsoever.
“We never spoke Spanish at home,” Estrada said. “My father decided we would not do that because of his experience growing up, having to learn English once he got into school.”
Kareli Montoya, Ballet Folklorico founder, talked about the challenge of dancing different genres. She had always known dancing traditionally, she said.
“We have our own culture as Mexican Americans,” Montoya said.
With Hispanic Heritage Month in motion, the dancers and band members input their opinions on juggling a lifestyle with their culture.
Estrada mentioned that he has practiced law for 30 years, but he always finds time to dance.
“Stay with your education, stay with that career, but you can still find a place for your art.” Estrada said.
When it came time for the students to ask questions, they asked about Ballet Folklórico’s involvement with Disney’s Coco.
“They hired us before the movie even came out,” Montoya said. “They didn’t give us any clues.”
After Coco premiered, the band felt the culture shock of their success, they said.
The band expressed their happiness that people were learning about the Day of the Dead and their ancestors.
At the conclusion of the luncheon, the band got tuned, and played some songs. One of the dancers, Jonathan Trejo, even got up and danced.
For more information on events for Hispanic Heritage Month on campus, swing by El Centro de Mucho Colores.