The Quad Cities Ballet Folklorio is a non-profit organization that teaches Mexican culture through the art form of dance to children in the Quad Cities.
The first group in 1984 was made of 15 students now fastforward to 2020 and the group has 60 students learning traditional Mexican Dances.
Caillou De La Paz joined the Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico when he was 11-years-old and hasn’t looked back since.
“I would watch the Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico before I joined and I would just be in awe and never really thought I could do something like that until I came to a practice and learned the basic steps and it all snow balled from there and they created a really good dancer out of me,” said De La Paz.
The Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico was established by Arnulfo Camarillo with the help of his wife Beatriz Camarillo in 1984 in hopes of keeping the Mexican traditions alive in the area. But their reach goes futher than just the Quad Cities they’ve performed thoughout the U.S. and Mexico.
“We’ve been fortunate in the past to travel all the way to Arizona, California and even Texas,” said Ray Terronez, QCBF Director.
Members of the group learn how to dance but that’s not all.
“We also teach them some of the background and some of the history so maybe one month we’ll focus on Veracruz while we’re performing that state that way the kids know where the costumes came from,” said Sonia Herrera QCBF Dance Instructor.
Andrea Martinez went from a student to a dance instructor and now hopes to help her students come out of their comfort zone.
“I started off really shy I didn’t know anything I wanted to help them,” said Martinez. “I was not nervous at all when I was going to perform for the first time I remember it was an Azteca traditional dance, I was really excited to perform for the very first time.”
The Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico understands money can be an obstacle for students becoming involved in their community but the group does everything they can to ensure those interested can learn the traditional Mexican dances.
“Always been free the classes don’t cost anything our director Arnulfo was very insistent we do not charge anything and we to this day we do not charge our students our dancers for anything,” said Sonia Herrera QCBF Dance Instructor.
The lessons students learn are priceless. As for De La Paz every dance step he takes brings him closer to his culture.
“Gives me the you know strength and the courage to go out there and perform infront of peope without any nervous or any types of emotions that would stop me doing what I do,” said De La Paz. “After I joined Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico my Mexican roots just florished and that’s all I really think about when I’m dancing is my family in Mexico and my family here and everything they’ve done to make my life how it is today.”
Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico has also been able to learn dances from professional Mexican dancers.