UTPA Report: Ballet Folklórico

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 7:44am

You may have heard of The University of Texas-Pan American's award-winning mariachi, but did you know its Ballet Folklórico has also received many accolades, reporter Jennifer Berghom has more.

For more than three decades, The University of Texas-Pan American's Ballet Folklórico has entertained audiences throughout the Rio Grande Valley and beyond with traditional dances from Mexico and the border region.

The ballet has more than 30 students from all disciplines who share their love of dance. Jessica Peña, who has a background dancing ballet and modern dance, says she joined the ballet last year after seeing one of its annual Alegría concerts.

Jessica Peña, "I asked Mr. Muñoz if I could be a part of the company and, because he had seen me in class and because I had been in the program for three years, he took me in and everybody was really helpful when I started because I was coming from another dance style but I believe I was able to adapt."

Miguel Peña joined the company when he began at UTPA as an undergraduate and moved up the ranks to become the Ballet Folklórico's assistant director. He says he and his fellow dancers work hard to master their routines.

Miguel Peña, assistant director of UTPA Ballet Folklorico, "I'm very proud to be here, (it's a) great opportunity to do, very good to make friends to travel around the world. It's a very good place to be."

The ballet has performed all over the world. Recently, the group performed in France and participated for the second time in a row at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Washington, D.C. for the National College Dance Festival. Southwest Airlines provided travel accommodations for the group to attend the festival.

Francisco Muñoz, the director of the UTPA Ballet Folklórico, says UTPA bested more than 50 other schools in Texas and surrounding states to receive the invitation to perform. He compares participating in the festival to a college sports team making it into the Final Four.

Francisco Muñoz, director, UTPA Ballet Folklórico, "It's fantastic, I mean, it brings a lot of prestige to the university, it brings prestige to our company and to the institution, It's great it's fantastic."

I'm Jennifer Berghom reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.

In addition to this year, The UTPA Ballet Folklórico performed at the Kennedy Center in 2012, when the festival was last held.



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