“Give us some space, give us some music, and we will dance,” says Mayela Sosa, owner of Así Se Baila Ballet Folklórico.
We will begin with a zapateado step of three distinct sounds, usually a combination of a stomp, heel, stomp. Be prepared for us to dance the night away!
Mayela Sosa attended her first folklorico performance in the fourth grade. She was captivated by the highly choreographed movements which celebrated folk traditions. The next day, she had her mother, Luz Romero, help her register for Roswell’s community folklorico group. She danced the traditional dances of Mexico and the American Southwest through junior high school. After she met her husband, Eric, and moved with him to California, she took up dancing again. In California, the folklorico groups were very competitive and the style was very different from what she had experienced in Roswell. Mayela was inspired to learn everything about the new styles and regional dances.
When the couple returned to Roswell three years ago, Mayela wanted to rejuvenate the folklorico dance scene bringing the knowledge she gained while in California, so she opened up her studio and began accepting students. The doors have been open three years now and as our state motto says, “It grows as it goes.” Mayela teaches in the evenings with a wide variety of ages in her classes. Her smallest dancers are between 5-9 years old. The next group is for ages 10-13, while the advanced class is for students older than 13. A ladies group is also available for women beyond high school age. If you’re interested in joining the studio, please message the group’s Facebook page or email email@example.com for details.
The most iconic and recognizable features of ballet folklorico are colorful costumes and skirts. The costumes help convey the emotion of stories that the dances tell. Different dances call for different costumes. Some costumes are white and plain, while other costumes are colorful and heavily embroidered. Still, other costumes look like traditional vaquero regalia. All dancers wear boots of varying heights. Their boots have nails at the toes and heels to create a very recognizable stomp during dance steps. The costumes relate to specific regions where the dances originate. Regional dance names include Sinaloa or “banda,” Jalisco, and Veracruz, to name a few.
One of the regions nearest to Southwest New Mexico and celebrated in folklorico is the state of Chihuahua. The folk dance of this region is highly influenced by polka music and customs from the Eastern part of Europe; however, it is unique in its use of both saxophone and accordion as lead instruments. The men wear black pants, vests, and hats while the women wear short skirts with a long sleeve shirt. The music is joyful and plays at a fast pace. The steps of these regional dances require, in general, intermediate to advanced dance experience and most Chihuahuan dances are for couples.
Asi Se Baila is a collaborative effort between Mayela, her mother, Luz, and her husband, Eric. Besides helping Mayela get started as a child, Luz helps juggle the Sosa’s children during rehearsals. She also makes pieces of the dancers’ costumes. Luz stitches skirts for Asi Se Baila. Eric keeps the group running smoothly with his go-getter attitude and handy-man skills. Mayela expresses her deepest gratitude to her mother and her husband for their help in pursuing her dream. She’d also like to thank her highly committed students and parents for their unwavering dedication to the studio.
Article written by Kaity Hirst and originally published in Focus Regional 2020 Winter edition.