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Folklorico Dresses Tell the Story of Mexico

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Have you been to a festival featuring food and crafts from different cultures, as well as dancers twirling and swishing their costumes?

West Texas dressmaker Jill Linneman has worked her magic on Ballet Folklorico costumes that will light up the stage this autumn at Canoa Ranch in Green Valley until November 22. You can view them until then!

Vestuario

Folklorico dance, one form of Mexican folk art that’s immensely popular worldwide, showcases different regions through costume, movement, and music.

Folklorico costumes reveal both the dancer’s home state and the type of dance they perform, for example, the popular jarabe tapatio dance from Jalisco, commonly known as the hat dance; one can tell their marital status from the length of ribbons dangling behind her hat; similarly, men tucking their kerchief into their belt can reveal this information as well.

Amalia Hernandez founded Ballet Folklorico de Mexico in 1952, mixing traditional Mexican dance with contemporary movements to create her form of nationalist folklorico dance. She earned praise from Mexican leaders, and the dance group is still performing today.

Carmen Baron, director of Tucson’s Danzacultura Mexicana, owns an impressive collection of 22 hand-sewn folklorico costumes made in his closet or corner until dancers bring them out for performances. From now until November 22nd, they can be found on display at Canoa Ranch in Green Valley.

Visitors to the exhibition can explore the symbolism and history of costume clothing, learn more about dances that accompany each piece of music and view dance outfits from across Mexico.

Skits

Folklorico dresses reflect their region in terms of their skirts or costumes. For instance, Jalisco Ribbon Dress stands out as one of the most striking symbols of Mexican culture and can be found worn during Jarabe Tapatio dances performed in Guadalajara region.

The United States is an amalgam of cultures, with each contributing its unique flair. Mexico shares this trait and has been dramatically shaped by both indigenous and European influences. A great way to experience all these diverse traditions is through dance performances like folklorico shows.

Each dance reflects the people and history of its home state through music, costumes, and movements, as well as props used during its performances. Men performing the Hat Dance often don charro pants with wide black hats, while women tend to don China Poblana outfits from 100 years ago for this dance form.

Folklorico might seem like just another dance form with exaggerated dance steps and bright costumes, but those familiar with its meaning find themselves transfixed by its beauty and rhythmic patterns. Therefore, teachers and students alike continue the folkloric dance tradition alive today.

Footwork

Dancers’ feet stamp out a syncopated rhythm to lively music, creating swift movements developed through years of practice. People unfamiliar with Folklorico may mistake its history for mere exaggerated steps performed in colorful dresses, but there’s much more to this dance form than meets the eye – it encapsulates Mexico and its cultures by mixing Indigenous dancing and music with colonial Spanish traditions into one cohesive whole.

The dances and costumes of each Mexican region reflect its cultural heritage through the color and design of its costumes, which indicate which state a costume hails from. Dancers in Puebla wear a combination of ranchero designs with bright ribbons attached, Indian-influenced wide skirts, as well as ranchero design dresses tied with colorful ribbons attached with ranchero pins attached by many colorful ribbons; for men, they don traditional Spanish charro suits adorned with decorative patterns as well as big sombrero hats (which are used during Mexican hat dance).

As well as costumes, specific props are also used to represent various regions and states in Mexico. A rebozo or shawl can indicate you come from Jalisco; its position can tell whether you’re married or single. Other elements used are an old European man-like mask used by Veracruz performers and bright makeup worn for Guerrero dances – these elements all combine for an exquisite performance that honors Mexico’s rich history and culture.

Shoes

Have you seen or attended a celebration of Mexican culture with colorful dancers dressed in costumes that highlight their home regions, performing traditional music accompanied by singing?

Costumes are equally crucial to dancers. They help tell a tale of Mexico’s long and diverse cultural past through unique colors, designs, and costumes representing every region across its entirety.

For instance, the Jalisco Ribbon Dress — worn during Jarabe Tapatio dances performed in Guadalajara — features a double circle skirt adorned with rows of colorful ribbons that are then combined with an extra-wide floured blouse that includes an adjustable ribbon belt around its waist for optimal fitting.

Clothing worn by dancers can give away their marital status. If they are single, for instance, their attire might indicate this through features like long ribbons dangling from their hat and hanging over their shoulder; but once married, they may switch up their style with shorter ribbons that tuck neatly into pockets on shawls or pockets tucked undercoats.

Carmen Baron is helping keep these traditions alive in Tucson through dancers like herself – currently teaching Folklorico to 25 students at Danzacultura Mexicana while sewing costumes for Tucson Meet Yourself and University of Arizona dance clubs – she even has an exhibit featuring these costumes at Canoa Ranch until Nov 22nd!