The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

Ballet Folklorico: A historic club

Unique cultural group offers new experiences to students
The club after performing at an elementary school. Photo courtesy of Telvi Altamirano Cancino.

The Ballet Folklorico club has existed for 21 years despite changes in leadership and COVID-19 difficulties to maintain its membership. One of the goals of the folkloric ballet club is to educate people about traditional dances. The dances are a manifestation and artistic expression that represent beliefs, customs and culture of different states of Mexico and Latin America.

Ballet Folklorico is a mix of European culture and native Mexican culture. The McCallum ballet folklorico club started over 21 years ago, with former Spanish teacher Juana Gun. Although numbers dwindled to a three dancers in the 2021-2022 school year due to COVID, they have now grown to 15 dancers. Following Gun’s retirement, Spanish teacher Telvi Altamirano-Cancino took over this year.

“For me the club is a way to share my culture with people who maybe don’t have access to that type of cultural experience,” Altamirano-Cancino said.

She has participated in the club before behind the scenes, only now taking her more public position as sponsor. As it has existed for so long, the club is an essential part of McCallum history. It shows its importance to the school by hosting events like the Cinco de Mayo celebration and the McCallum Quinceañera, among others. Events like these demonstrate the value of the club to students.

The Ballet Folklorico program has a positive impact on the members of the community and the club.

“Everyone helps each other and the teacher is very comprehensive and good at showing things,” club member Yesenia Sajuan said.
Today the club presents traditional Latin American dances to kids all around Austin. It offers students the opportunity to learn about Latin American culture and experience a unique art form. At every performance, McCallum students explain the history and the origins of the dances to the kids and at the end they invite the kids to dance with them.

I have the chance to dance and express myself

— junior Diara Benitez

Throughout the years of the Ballet Folklorico club’s existence, different members have been an important part of its success. Some members of the club have been part of it since they were freshmen and others have joined only recently.

One of the members with the most time in the club is junior Daira Benitez who has been a part of it since her freshman year at McCallum. Benitez is one of the few members who has previous experience in ballet folklorico.

“I have the chance to dance and express myself in that way,” Benitez said.

One of the most important former members is Valeria Elizondo, who danced with the McCallum Ballet Folklorico club with Gun and later returned to become the present-day coach of the club. Thanks to her and her help, it is possible for the school to have a group so rich in Hispanic culture.

Ballet Folklorico is more than a dance and a smile for the dancers and audience. It takes a lot of effort to keep this important tradition alive. It is a form of cultural expression that connects cultural roots that express emotions.

View Comments (3)
More to Discover

Comments (3)

All The Shield Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    anatoleJan 19, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    I really like this article because I was able to learn a lot about the culture and I really love all the colors.

  • C

    carlo hJan 12, 2024 at 2:26 pm

    i wish there was more information about elizondo, because i find that aspect very cool.

  • M

    maxwellJan 9, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    I like this article because they have been trying to better educate others on traditional dances and expresses their beliefs, customs, and culture.