Bay Area dance company keeps Ballet Folklorico dance tradition alive while keeping kids off the street

Ballet Folklorico Mexico Danza celebrates Hispanic culture by teaching the community Folklorico dancing for the past three decades. "We all come from different backgrounds and I think as Americans I think we need to know where we came from," says Rene Gonzalez, founder of Ballet Folklorico Mexico Danza in Hayward. Rene Gonzalez and Co-founder Martin Romero have dedicated their time and talent to teaching Folkorico Dancing to younger generations in the Hayward Community.

Gonzalez was approached by the City of Hayward and asked if he would start an organization to keep kids off the street. "I was a little hesitant because I knew it was a lot of work," said Gonzalez. "When they were telling me that it was basically to keep the kids off the street and give them something to look forward to after school. Right away I thought that this is my community and I have to do this and that is what I did."

In 1990, Gonzalez opened a dance company and started teaching children the basics of Folklorico dancing. Almost thirty years later, he and his co-founder Romero, teach over 100 students. "All these years after teaching this dance company, we are teaching the second generation to many families that we have here at Mexico Danza. These families started off as kids, grew up, went to college, started their families, and now they have their kids dancing with us."

Isabella Arias has been dancing at Mexico Danza for seven years. "I feel like it is a big part of the Latin Culture because in a way it shows who we are," said Arias. "It is just not our food, our language, or what country we are from. It is our beliefs and what we do to talk to our ancestors through, certain dances."

Gonzalez started dancing at five-years-old with a small group in Hayward and fell in love with dancing. "My Dad is from Mexico and my Mom was Mexican-American," said Gonzalez. "My Dad wanted to make sure that we understood and that we appreciated our Mexican culture."

From then on, Gonzalez dedicated his life to dancing. He studied dance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico and costume design at the Instituto Mizoc. He also took classes with the most prominent Folklorico instructor, Rafael Zamarripa.

"Everything is done by research that we have had over the years," said Gonzalez. "In terms of colors it depends on every region, Mexico is a colorful country. Here at Mexico Danza we love a lot of color.
We express that through the unique costumes that are from the different states of Mexico.The word Folklorico also means the dance of the people.

Ballet Folklorico Mexico Danza will be performing their annual Nutcracker Pinata November 30th and December 1st. For tickets visit their website