s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 3 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read 6 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Continue reading with unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
For just $5.25 per month, you can keep reading SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?

Inside Sonoma’s Ballet Folklorico troupe

X

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Login

X

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

LoginSubscribe

Balley Folklorica Quetzalén’s next performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at the Fandango Celebration for Latino Services Providers and Sunday, April 29, at the Day of the Children in Maxwell Park. Just as in years past, the group will be performing at Sonoma’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which include Sonoma Plaza, Robledo’s Winery, and El Verano School, among others.

Eye-popping costumes and traditional dance styles set to enlivening Mexican folk music: that’s what community dance group Quetzalén is about. And so much more.

Founded in 2008, Sonoma’s official ballet folklórico for Latin cultural events got its inception from a senior project. A combination of Sonoma Valley High School students and members of St. Francis Solano Church laid the groundwork for what is now a town-wide affair. Wanting to share their knowledge with younger generations, the group grew with the support of local school principals, parents and educators. Now, with over 100 members, they have expanded into three groups: Quetzalén, Grupo Folklórico El Verano, and Grupo Folklórico de Woodland Star, the last two being children groups.

Pioneered by Amalia Hernandez in the 1950s, ballet folklórico literally translates to “folkloric dance” in Spanish. It is a collective term for traditional Mexican dances which incorporate local folk culture with well-known ballet movements such as pointed toes and a focus on musicality.

Most adult dancers in Quetzalén had no prior dance experience. Aside from teaching and performing, the group’s volunteers maintain day jobs. Some work in restaurants while others are supervisors, construction workers and landscape artists.

Quetzalén supports local schools, educational programs, and nonprofit organizations through special appearances and performances. Thousands of spectators have tasted the troupe’s unique and memorable performances around Sonoma County through the dedication of Quetzalén’s passionate members.

Volunteers from the dance troupe also provide afterschool instruction at Woodland Charter School and El Verano School, the same locations where they practice.

“As a dancer, my favorite part about being part of a ballet folklórico is to have the chance of learning about a country’s traditions and culture like Mexico and be available to showcase their beauty through performances,” says Quetzalén member Victor Ferrer. “For us, the dancers at Quetzalén, the applause and the admiration of the public is what makes dancing really special. Being available to perform in different venues inside and outside of the county, in different states, is a priceless experience.”

Sonoma resident Patrick Garcia, 78, has seen the group perform its free public events upward of 20 times.

“The music that the group here offers really brings a lot of the naturalist element to the people there listening to it and watching it,” says Garcia, who was Sonoma’s 2016 “alcalde,” or honorary mayor. “They are upgrading the great feelings of Mexico and what it’s all about and what it is today.”

Add Garcia: “The young ladies know how to really perform.”

For each choreographed piece, a unique costume is designed to represent the meaning or origin of the dance. Noemi Lobato, of Sonoma, and Elias Roldan, of Los Angeles, create Quetzalén’s costumes. The proceeds from teaching and performing, as well as donations from the community, go toward producing the elaborate costumes. A costume can cost between $150 to $750 per performer.

Continues Garcia: “Each one of the regions has different indigenous clothing. It shows their local area and is how they communicate to the world. That’s what Victor (Ferrer’s) clothing is all about. He’s done a good job in doing his studies.”

Former Community Center director Ken Brown first came in contact with Quetzalén while planning for the annual Fourth of July parade. Through his role at the Community Center, Brown has planned and produced events in the city and county for more than 30 years.

Balley Folklorica Quetzalén’s next performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at the Fandango Celebration for Latino Services Providers and Sunday, April 29, at the Day of the Children in Maxwell Park. Just as in years past, the group will be performing at Sonoma’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which include Sonoma Plaza, Robledo’s Winery, and El Verano School, among others.

“They were entertainers in the real sense of the word,” Brown says about Quetzalen, which marches in the July 4th parade. “They promote cultural awareness. They were definitely a positive showcase for Mexican dancing.”

Quetzalén’s chosen music has evolved and developed over hundreds of years. Combining regionally inspired costumes with intricate dance choreography, the stories told to the audience are rich in Mexican heritage. Common themes and life experiences such as love and friendship are communicated through their artistic expression.

Quetzalén’s next performances are scheduled for Saturday, March 31, in Santa Rosa at the Fandango Celebration for Latino Services Providers; and Sunday, April 29, at the Day of the Children in Maxwell Park. Just as in years past, the group will be performing at Sonoma’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations, which include events at the Sonoma Plaza, Robledo’s Winery and El Verano School, among others.

Anyone interested in putting in the footwork can also learn the basics. Quetzalén offers ballet folklórico classes on a regular basis and encourages all ages and skill levels to attend. Adult classes are taught mostly in Spanish while their children’s groups are taught in either English or bilingually. Classes are separated by age: Kids 4-9, teens 10-19 and adults 18 and over. Each class costs just $5. More information about classes, upcoming events, as well as photos and videos from past performances on their Facebook page, “Ballet Folklórico Quetzalén.”