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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 12:40 PM

High Desert Grange’s Ballet Folklorico Nuestra Herencia Mexicana to Showcase Talent at Fundraiser

High Desert Grange’s Ballet Folklorico Nuestra Herencia Mexicana to Showcase Talent at Fundraiser
Fallon’s own High Desert Grange Ballet Folklorico Nuestra Herencia Mexicana will present
“Alma Mexicana” on Saturday, April 2, at 4 p.m. at the Churchill County High School auditorium.

Author: Photo courtesy of Suzann Gilliland Peterson

Folkloric dance, like the English term “folk dance,” means “dances of the people.” This type of dance reflects the traditions, cultures, and beliefs of people in a particular region. Folkloric dance expresses the life and spirit of a people through its movement and music. It is both historical and current, preserving tradition, yet shifting with the current times. So does Vanderbilt University Center for Latin American Studies aptly describe this cultural tradition, a tradition that is alive and thriving in Fallon’s own High Desert Grange Ballet Folklorico Nuestra Herencia Mexicana. Most of the 12 dancers in Nuestra Herencia Mexicana are Mexican American, but such a group may have dancers from many different backgrounds. The common thread is a love of Hispanic culture.

Elizabeth Medina, Director of Nuestra Herencia Mexicana, began dancing at the age of 8 in Stockton, CA with the Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata. At 18, she left the team and created her own dance group. In 2015, she moved to Fallon with her husband and left her California group in the hands of her sister. Missing her group was the impetus to create a new team. In 2018, Nuestra Herencia Mexicana was born via an ad Elizabeth posted on Facebook. In 2019, Elizabeth joined her program with the High Desert Grange. All members of her dance team are High Desert Grange members, and they take advantage of the many programs the Grange offers.

Elizabeth relishes the personal reward of passing on her knowledge to her team members and watching them perform her art. “They make my vision come to life as I choreograph all of our material,” she says. “As a dance director, I make sure my students don’t just dance. I make sure they know what they're representing. In Folklorico, we dance various dances from various regions. Every region has a costume, a type of music, a posture, a skirt movement, a hand placement, etc. I like to make sure they respect each region as it is represented.”

Practice is essential for a good presentation, and the team practices twice a week at Ivyland, where Elizabeth runs her program. Dancing is a cardio workout, and one of her biggest personal challenges is keeping in good physical shape. One of the biggest team challenges is keeping the cost of performing as low as possible, while keeping the artistic traditions of the different regions true to life. To portray the region, they are presenting at any given performance, it can take the members up to an hour to prepare their initial hair bun, makeup, and undergarments.  Some events have two to five dress changes. Dancing is a labor of love.

When asked how she thinks the dance team contributes to our community, she said, “It takes kids off their couch and off the phones. I’d like to think I’ve helped spark a healthy interest. I also love seeing my students gain confidence through the stage. I hope this helps them in school and in their everyday lives.”

Nuestra Herencia Mexicana is well known in northern Nevada. They have performed at the Cantaloupe Festival, Winnemucca Fair, Yerington Fair, Carson City Fair, State Fair, Fiesta on Wells, Día De Los Muertos for the NV State Museum, Danzantes Unidos Festival, and private events.

On Saturday, April 2, at 4 p.m. at the Churchill County High School auditorium, Nuestra Herencia Mexicana will present “Alma Mexicana.” “Alma Mexicana” means “Mexican Soul” and is a fundraiser to raise money to pay for registration, hotel, dining, and transportation for their dancers to participate in the Danzantes Unidos Festival. This is a three-day annual conference that takes place in Fresno, CA. Over 3,000 Ballet Folklorico dancers will gather for the weekend for workshops, dance markets, showcases, and social gatherings. This will give the dancers a chance to see what other groups are working on and to discover different regions and arts that other teachers and groups have put together. Seven first timers will accompany the dance team this year. Joining Nuestra Herencia Mexicana at the fundraiser will be the 30-member Ballet Folklorico Flor de Castilla from Reno, who will be presenting dances from the Mexican regions of Sinaloa, Veracruz, Zacatecas, Guerrero, Nuevo Leon, and Jalisco. Also performing will be Mariachi Los Arrieros and singer Melinna Adrian, both from Reno. Tickets for Alma Mexicana are $25 per person per seat and can be purchased on the High Desert Grange website: https://www.grange.org/highdesertnv22/alma-mexicana/. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Any unsold tickets will be sold at the door. A concession stand with snacks and drinks will be available.

Elizabeth and Nuestra Herencia Mexicana are looking forward to showcasing their talent for the enjoyment of our community. For more information, contact Elizabeth Medina at (209) 933-1393 or at [email protected].