Ballet Folklorico shows love for Hispanic heritage through dance

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

El Folklorico las Estrellas de Waco is a nonprofit organization that focuses on keeping Hispanic culture alive through the art of dance.

Mary Lou Pesina, the director of el Folklorico las Estrellas de Waco, shared that the company was originally created in fall 1998 to encourage the appreciation of Hispanic culture. The dancers’ ages range from 7 to as old as their feet can keep dancing, Mary Lou Pesina said. The dancers all share a passion for dancing and keeping Hispanic culture alive, and they perform authentic dances from each of the states of Mexico.

“We have tried to keep our dances and costumes as original as possible to reflect the true music and dances from each state,” Mary Lou said.

Alicia Pesina, instructor of Ballet Folklorico and daughter of Mary Lou, has been leading the Folklorico since 1998. She said that the entire company works together on a volunteer basis, and the company is a labor of love for their country and their heritage.

“Keeping our culture alive and showing everyone that we should never be embarrassed or ashamed of where our ancestors came from is my goal.” Alicia said. “In a time where we are chastised for our heritage, where many of our friends and their family feel threatened, I just want to show that we are not afraid of our Mexican roots.”

McGregor resident Nichole Jaimen has four children who all participate in the Folklorico as dancers. Jaimen said that this is their second year dancing, and the children have had fun and built their confidence in dancing, while also getting to learn more about their father’s heritage.

“The reason we got involved is because our cousin’s daughters perform at a Folklorico in Fort Worth, and we became really interested in it. My husband really liked it,” Jaimen said. “He really likes the tradition and his culture; he takes pride in it.”

Jaimen also shared that the children have a wide variety of opportunities to perform throughout the year, sometimes multiple times in one weekend, which gives the siblings a lot of bonding time.

“They’re so funny — sometimes they get along and sometimes they don’t,” Jaimen said. “But whenever they’re at practices and dances, they’re really supportive of each other, and their sibling bond is strong.”

The passion the dancers have for showing appreciation for their culture and sharing authentic Hispanic culture through dancing and costumes is powerful, and the group continues to travel and show others the vitality of their company any chance they have.

Alicia said one of the organization’s goals is to stay as authentic and true to Hispanic culture as possible, and that is what keeps her motivated.

“This is where my passion is derived from,” Alicia said. “I love my heritage, I love my beautiful culture and I love expressing it in the form of Ballet Folklorico.”