Ballet Fólklorico de Aztlán helping students share culture

By Shandra Haggerty, Reporter

After six years of trying to get access to EWU’s dance studio, Ballet Fólklorico de Aztlán was finally granted it this year and wants to show EWU that it was the right decision.

BFA  is a cultural diversity club that teaches students Latin American dance choreography in order for its members to educate others about Mexican culture. BFA prides itself on its ability to capture so much indigenous representation through dances.

EWU senior Angelica Garcia-Macias lived in Wenatchee before coming to Cheney and has been a part of BFA for three years. She was disappointed in the lack of cultural opportunities at her high school.

“Eastmont really tried to deter us from anything that had to do with multiculturalism,” Garcia-Macias said. “I had to go into the community to find free classes and I had so much fun that I decided to pursue that passion here at Eastern.”

BFA members don’t just learn about dance. Members obtain public speaking experience through presentations at EWU.

“We did a presentation last year educating people on the differences of each dance and where those influences come from,” Garcia-Macias said. “When we do perform, we like to elaborate where the dances come from and what [Mexican] state they pertain to.”

“There’s a lot of state pride regarding which state people come from,” Garcia-Macias said. ”In the U.S. you’re really proud to be from America whereas in Mexico you’re more proud of the state you come from.”

Each Mexican state differs greatly in its background and so each dance is unique to the state it comes from. BFA wants to educate people on these differences and what they mean.

“We educate people on how each state incorporates different dance moves,” Garcia-Macias said. “People can learn why the dresses look so different from state to state, why some have fans and others don’t.”

The presentations can be informative for anyone who may be curious about Mexican culture and the origin of different types of dance. BFA sometimes partners with the history department to educate on those origins.

“When we speak on southern Mexico you hear more of a strong indigenous background and some African influence there too,” Garcia-Macias said. “Because of the slave trade, a lot of influence came from a dark background. It lets people have an inside look at the culture.”

BFA says it welcomes everyone to their practices on Thursday evenings, regardless of where they’re from or their dance experience.

“Mexico has so many different influences,” Garcia-Macias said. “So, people from all sorts of backgrounds are welcome.”

“So many of these dances have amazing stories and backgrounds behind them,” EWU junior Taylor Padilla said.

Padilla has been dancing Fólklorico since high school and this is her third year in BFA at EWU.

“Being in BFA has definitely given me the opportunity to connect with my community and networking with other departments in order to share our beautiful culture,” Padilla said. “Not only is it a good workout and a chance to meet new friends, I get to learn more about the Mexican culture too.”