Folklorico At Lincoln: New Teachers, Same Tradition

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Folklorico At Lincoln: New Teachers, Same Tradition

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Folklorcio is a term for a variety of native Mexican dances and in the 1990s, Roslia Novotny, a former teacher at Lincoln, established a folklorico dance group at Lincoln.  It is a community at Lincoln that has always been a very family orientated. There are many students each year trying to get a spot in a class.

Even though the folklorico dance program is in high demand, it is difficult to find instructors. With the sudden need for a new teacher for the program, many students at Lincoln began to worry about the future of the program. However, over the summer, two teachers came to ensure folklorico at Lincoln would continue.

The program itself consists of a Beginning, Intermediate Advanced, and the Varsity team. Even though all levels are fantastic, the varsity team, better known as Xóchitl, is the star of the show. With the bright costumes and gritos, it is hard to take your eyes off the dancers. By interviewing team members I was able to get a sense of what the flawless team looked behind the scenes.

The former teacher and coach Ms. Vela left Lincoln at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. She had worked at Lincoln for three years. When she left, the team did not know who would take her place. The fate of the dance team seemed to be looking helpless. During the last few months of school and throughout the summer there was no update if there would be a new teacher. Some students felt that Xóchitl wouldn’t be as good anymore, and thought of leaving.

When school started for the 2019-2020 school year, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Some dancers who thought of leaving were welcomed back and able to rejoin the team. All team members from the previous year were allowed to be part of the new team.

The two new teachers that came to the program are Ms. McAlister and  Mr. Cortez. It is hard to find someone who is qualified and has the credentials to teach this specific type of dance. One teacher new to Lincoln is Ms. McAlister. She was born and raised in San Jose. She started dance through her preschoool’s dance program and has not stopped since. She double majored in dance and teaching k-12. Outside of the dance room she likes to continue to stay active and finds ways to express herself through arts and crafts. Ms. McAlister loves ballet and tap. Ms McAlister also teaches begging dance at Lincoln. She plans to teach Xóchitl some ballet skills as well as learn from the students themselves about the art of folklorico.

As for Mr. Cortez, his journey is very different. His entire life is revolving around folklorico. His early journey with dance started at a young age sneaking into his sister’s practices. It wasn’t until he was 14, he said, that he officially started dancing. He attended the University of Guanajuato in México and was the assistant director at the university for 6 years. He then went to the University of Colima to study dance before coming to the United States.

While in the United States he created the Mexican Dance Ensemble which is based in Chicago and currently on tour in Turkey. Currently Mr. Cortez directs Los Lupeños and Los Lupeños Juvenil which is an outside dance company based in San Jose. Talking to Mr. Cortez, you can tell how passionate he is about dance. He told me how he is apart of the Asociación Nacional de Maestros de Danza Popular Mexicana and Instituto de Investigación y Difusión de la Danza Mexicana are associations that research folklorico in México. He plans to publish a paper on indigenous folklorico routines. His goals this year are to continue the high energy and passion the team has had as well as showcase new dance routines from different regions.

You can help support the folklorico program at Lincoln by visiting the Lincoln Preforming Arts Black Box page online.

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