Interested in starting a ballet folklórico group at your college? Or network with the best instructors while brushing up on a little zapateado? There's no better place to start than with the University Folklórico Summit happening this weekend at UC Irvine. The three-day event comes courtesy of a partnership between the Danzantes Unidos de California nonprofit and Ballet Folklórico de UCI.
Registration for the summit will bring together more than 30 dancers from different college campuses and even a couple of high schools. It all starts off with a social mixer today before the weekend workshops get down to business.
"What is presented is specific to building and sustaining a folklórico group on campus," says Danzantes Unidos Interim Executive Director Maria Luisa Colmenarez. "They're all in different stages of development."
Summit organizers saw a specific need arise at their annual Danzantes Unidos Festival–the largest of its kind nationwide– from college students for more than just learning Mexican regional folkloric dances. The initiative started in 2013 at UC Riverside before moving on to Cal State Fullerton. This weekend it returns to OC by setting up shop at UC Irvine.
"The majority are not majors in dance or in the arts. They all have careers that they're looking forward to after their university experience," Colmenarez adds. "But a lot of the skills that are built in maintaining a club are skills that carry over into professional lives."
She herself owned a dance company with her sister in Sacramento after learning the dance traditions of her native state of Oaxaca and beyond. "It really gave us a bridge to connect back to our families in Mexico while at the same time establishing a strong base from where we could launch into any career into our choice," she says.
No summit would be complete with just an emphasis on creating youth leaders. "There is a dance workshop on Sunday that gets everyone up and moving," Colmenarez says. "But the real dancing happens at the festival and that's on Palm Sunday weekend."
Many of the summit students will be performing and Danzantes Unidos de California is taking to the opportunity to scope potential venues this weekend to return the event to Los Angeles where it was born in 1979.
It's not too late to join in on all the folkloric festivities! Online registration for the University Folklórico Summit remains open and the event is accepting walk-ups. The enrollment fee is affordable and there's even a cool t-shirt in it for summit goers!