Folklorico history in Mexico, Lansing for Hispanic Heritage Month

Theresa Rosado doesn’t do folklorico dances and joked her skills are worthy of a comedy act.

That doesn’t stop her cultural center from partnering with local groups for folklorico performances and teaching Lansing about its own history with the classical, colorful genre of Mexican entertainment.

Casa de Rosado Galeria and Cultural Center’s exhibit, “¡Fiesta!” started on Sept. 18 and runs until Oct. 2 at 204 E. Mount Hope Ave. Showings are only by appointment as Rosado is preparing for El Dia de los Muertos — or The Day of the Dead.

The early November, Mexican holiday made famous by the film “Coco” celebrates deceased loved ones through food, drink and merriment. Sometimes, the merriment includes folklorico performances — or folkloric dancing.

Rosado is willing to share her collection of folklorico costumes, sombreros and accessories with those willing to email her at [email protected] for an appointment.

Rosado said anyone willing to visit can get a special grasp on the technique, artistry and history behind traditional folkloric dances in Mexico and Lansing.

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Rosado begins each session with history lessons about the dances and origins in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Folklorico dancers coordinated a routine to Jesús González Rubio’s “El Jarabe Tapatío” — Mexican hat dance in English — to symbolize Mexican independence, which Spanish rulers banned. Rosado added it also encouraged freedom and interracial relationships. It’s now used in traditional performances.

“We chose that (folklorico) because it’s so popular right now,” Rosado said.

There are various dance groups in Lansing including El Grupo Fiesta de Maria Castillo, Ballet Maria Luz and Fantasia Ballet Folklorico, among others.

Theresa Rosado, owner of the Casa de Rosado Galeria and Cultural Center in Lansing, talks about the exhibit

Maria Castillo founded El Grupo Fiesta nearly 33 years ago, her daughter Maria Angelita Castillo said. They’ve taught everyone from 2-year-olds to adults how to perform Jalisco and Veracruz dances, which are performed at schools, senior living facilities or wherever the group is invited.

Castillo teaches all interested parties everything she knows about folklorico and admits there are instances when her mom or another person teaches her something new.

“It’s never not a learning process,” she said. “Even I learn something and you have to show them initiative for them to stick to it and practice it so you can do your best.”

Booking El Grupo Fiesta is free. Maria Angelita Castillo said her mom has one requirement.

“When we dance, you have to give our children something to drink and a light snack,” she said.

Any and all monetary donations are used to purchase apparel dancers need for any upcoming performances, Castillo said. Most young dancers rent outfits until they become teenagers when they tend to grow out of rentals.

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Rosado said that sombreros and skirts on display at Casa de Rosado reflect what folklorico dancers wear today.

French immigrants stayed in Mexico after France’s invasion and some took over sombrero shops. Remnants of their designs are still present, Rosado said, speaking of sequin placements and various embroidery techniques.

Castillo said she’s delighted when people of various cultural backgrounds take an interest.

“It’s a good thing to have other people who want to enjoy your culture,” she said.

A display at Casa de Rosado Galeria and Cultural Center in Lansing.  The center's show

The Mexican Patriotic Committee of Lansing operated from 1940 until the 1970s and organized annual Mexican Independence Day celebrations, Cinco de Mayo and queen selections. A photo of local Hispanic activist Lorenzo Lopez performing folklorico in the 1980s is in Rosado’s exhibit. Lopez has led and organized various Hispanic-centered organizations and activities including the city’s Mexican Independence Day celebration.

More folklorico performances are coming back to Lansing as pandemic restrictions ease. El Grupo Fiesta performed a late July monarch dance for butterflies and handed seeds in celebrations of summer at the cultural center. Ballet Maria Luz hosts lessons at Foster Community Center throughout the city and was part of the Sept. 16 Mexican Independence Day celebration at Lansing City Hall.

Rosado said many people will recognize some of the dance moves and music that’s now in pop culture, but may not know the history behind it.

“To learn about folklorico to me is eye-opening. I had no idea of ​​the influences from different countries like France and Germany…. So there’s a huge multicultural intersection in Mexico,” Rosado said. “We think of Mexicans as just Mexicans, but it’s a lot of different things mixed together.”

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Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at (517) 267-1344 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KrystalRNurse.

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