Caitlin, Kelly, and I had the opportunity to talk with Isabella Speedon. Isabella is a student at Saint Mary’s College and a member of the Notre Dame Ballet Folklorico group. Isabella talked to us about the history of ballet folkorico and what it is like to dance with the group at Notre Dame. An excerpt from our interview is below.
Caitlin: How many dances per year do you guys perform in?
Isabella: We always perform a dance called La Buja. La Buja is the witch in Spanish and it’s performed on All Saint’s Day or around Dia Los Muertos. We did that this year. We did another one for Saint Mary’s because it was special requested by one of the cultural clubs here. We always do the Latin Expressions performance. We do Welsh Fam at Notre Dame. We’re doing another one. Oh, we’re doing P Fresh. So that’s five so far. But I’d say at least five dances maybe a little bit more, but probably no more than eight.
Caitlin: And that’s throughout the whole school year?
Caitlin: Okay gotcha. And then I know that when we were watching and observing you were practicing two different dances.
Caitlin: Group dances for the performance, how would you explain the difference between those? I noticed there was a style difference. But is there anything else that someone, an outsider, wouldn’t know?
Isabella: Generally the dances that we pick are from different regions. So for example, I know La Buja is from Veracruz, Mexico. And so, I don’t know all of the historical parts but I know that some of the dances we do are from different regions. So the machete dance is from Jalisco, Mexico. We did Adelitas. I don’t remember where that’s from exactly. But I know that it represents different regions. That kind of reflects the way we dress. So the Jalisco dances have the really pretty dresses where it goes up to our necks and it’s a longer dress. Compared to when we did the Adelitas dance it’s just kind a skirt. And that one, Adelitas, is typically performed under a revolutionary theme so we wore bullets. I did one called Santorita with my partner and that was also a revolutionary theme. So they all kind of go with under certain themes.
Katie: So the different dances that you were talking about, if you were to go to that region of Mexico you would see people performing generally the same idea of that dance?
Isabella: I think in Mexico Ballet Folkorico , I’m not sure if that’s where it came from originally so that style historically is from that area. But then all of Ballet Folklorico just practices it. So, it might be like Jalisco originated in this part of Mexico but now everybody performs it. So it might more be the home or where it came from. But I mean I’m sure you could find it there too. Actually I did see a Jalisco dance when I went to Jalisco, Mexico. So yeah I would say so.
Katie: That’s cool. I never realized that.