Roswell Folklorico perform for holiday shoppers at the Roswell Mall, Saturday. Mark Wilson Photo
Christmas shoppers at the Roswell Mall set down their purchases and took in a show of color and culture, Saturday afternoon, when Roswell Folklorico presented its annual holiday show.
About 60 performers from the ages of 4 to 75 demonstrated an array of expressive dances from the regions Nayarit, Chiapas, Chihuahua, New Mexico, Jalisco and Yucatan, sharing a program that Folklorico director Frank Herrera called “our gift to the community.”
“The community has supported us for all these years, so we do this program for them,” he said.
The group has put on its holiday show for about 20 years, Herrera said. He called it the second-biggest show of the year for Roswell
Folklorico, as the group included many of the dances from its big recital that takes place at the end of each season.
The program began Saturday with the group’s advanced class performing Nayarit, the first time the group had performed this dance in a holiday show. The dance, which lasted nearly five minutes, involved a lot of choreography and is among the most challenging to teach, Herrera said.
Later, after the little ones trotted out to perform Chiapas, the audience had seen multiple generations perform dances.
Patricia Gray, parent of 5-year-old dancer Valerie Amaya, said she believes the preservation of Mexican heritage is the greatest reward of Roswell Folklorico.
“I speak Hispanic, (but) she doesn’t speak it at all,” Gray said. “So this helps her get to know our culture. … I really hope more kids will join.”
Gray said 2012 is the second year in Roswell Folklorico for Amaya, who looks forward to the dancing for days leading up to a show. Gray said that as a parent, she enjoys the preparation that goes into each performance and credits Roswell Folklorico for instilling values in the children.
“It takes a lot to get them ready — makeup, hair, everything. Changing dresses,” she said. “So it teaches them leadership, obedience.”
Herrera said the involvement of younger generations in Roswell Folklorico is exciting on many levels.
“A lot of the Mexican culture has been lost through the years,” he said. “So I’m anxious. I get really excited to teach (the kids) because I know that it’s something that may be lost if I don’t continue. And now I need to look for someone to take my place.”
Herrera said he tries to incorporate stories into the steps and choreography of these dances to his students. He said an example of this is when “two lovebirds come together and flap their wings.” When the students are able to hold to a story in their movements, “it shows in the dancing,” he said.
“I try to explain to the kids the meaning of the dances,” Herrera said. “It’s not just a dance, there’s a story behind it. A lot of the dances from Mexico do tell a story.”
Herrera, who has been teaching dance for 40 years, said he hopes to groom one his students to one day carry the torch for him so that Roswell Folklorico will continue in the years ahead.