Mexican folk dancing makes mainstream debut
By Denise M. Baran-Unland Correspondent May 2, 2013 4:22PM
At a glance
What: Ballet Folklorico Tepeyac
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Patrick Catholic Church, 710 W. Marion St., Joliet
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:05AM
Laura Bilot of Big Grove Township is not Hispanic and neither are her six children.
But when the Joliet-based “Our Lady of Guadalupe” Catholic homeschool group began a Hispanic folk dance group, Christine, 20, Jacqueline, 19; John, 16; Catherine, 14; Dominic, 12; and James, 10, quickly became enthusiastic members.
They’ve not only learned fast-paced dances full of Mexican culture, they’ve learned the history behind the towns where the dances originated, a sense of community with the larger world and conversational Spanish, as the dance instructor, Jose Alfredo Rivera, does not teach in English.
Bilot hopes people of all ethnic backgrounds will come out to Ballet Folklorico Tepeyac’s performance Sunday at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Joliet. In addition to witnessing the dancing and enjoying authentic, homemade Mexican food, Bilot’s certain they’ll be unable to resist the festive mood of the Hispanic people.
“Their joy is contagious,” Bilot said.
Edel Barajas of Yorkville began the dance group last year as a way to combine promotion of culture, art, exercise and history to homeschool youths.
Currently, the dancers, as well as their parents, have learned much about Jalisco, more than just its saints and martyrs. In December, the dance group held its first event, “Taste of Jalisco.”
“We found out that Jalisco is the place where they make tequila,” Barajas said. “Mariachi was also formed there.”
An unexpected benefit for Dominique Powers, 12 and Kimberly Powers, 10, of Joliet, is the development of self-confidence. Both girls, as well as their brother, William, 5, who does not yet belong to the group, are painfully shy, but they now hold their heads high, walk assuredly and interact with ease.
“Last Sunday they had to stand up in front of the entire church and invite everyone to their next performance,” said their mother, Leticia Powers of Joliet. “Then they had to pass out flyers. Even the 5-year-old, who’s been learning from watching them, helped.”