Tijuana, Mexico

Reaching Back To My Roots

My Folklorico dance team posing before a performance. 

My Folklorico dance team posing before a performance. 

Ballet Folklorico. A collection of Mexican dances from each region in Mexico.
Ariana Melchor. A senior in high school, who is always in awe of the beauties Mexico has to offer.

This past year, I chose to dive into my culture. All or nothing. I began listening to Mexican bands and socializing with people who had similar interests. These people soon became my best friends, my mentors, and my dance partners after they convinced me to join Ballet Folklorico.

Fast forward to July 2017, we all began dancing Ballet Folklorico. By being a part of this incredible group, I was able to become who I was meant to be. With the excitement of being involved in a cultural activity, it seemed fitting to me that I gave back to my Chicano community. By joining Ballet Folklorico, I was able to reevaluate and change my priorities in life.

I embraced my culture by recognizing the depth and meaning behind the dances I was engaging with. Dances such as the Jarabe tapatío and the Deer Dance heightened my awareness of the tone of the Hispanic music that accompanied them, and the amount of thought that went into choreographing these dances. Since this activity is conducted as a team, I felt that it easily allowed me to connect with others more sincerely while simultaneously participating in this cultural tradition.

In the past, I never felt quite myself because I have always been surrounded with people who weren’t Mexican or Mexicans who had lost connection to their roots. I felt forced to suppress my culture and who I really was. Ballet folklorico has allowed me to reconnect with my culture and truly see how amazing it is by allowing me to meet so many different people who share similar interests.

While dancing, I experience an indescribable sense of joy. I can always be found smiling or in the corner trying to perfect a step because I don’t want to let down my people. Dancing has become a part of who I am and if it weren’t for Ballet Folklorico, I doubt I would be as interested in Mexican culture as I am now.

(Photography courtesy of Ariana Melchor) 

Ariana Melchor