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Dancing Through Mexico’s History

Learn about Mexican cultural heritage!

Ballet Folklórico is a collective term used to encompass many traditional dances from Mexico’s different regions. These dances celebrate the vibrant tapestry of Mexican culture. With each dance comes a story that could fill multiple books with details about movement, music, costumes, and the history of Mexico.

Join director of El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil, Maestra Susana Quintanilla, and UMS teaching artists Hannah Nettleton and Alejandro Quintanilla as they perform two styles of dance in the Ballet Folklórico repertoire. Accompanying this lesson are slides with basic instructional videos that will have you dancing in no time.

To learn more about Mexican history and culture explore the accompanying slides and worksheets.

About the Artists

Susana QuintanillaSusana Quintanilla is an educator (M.A. Bilingual Education) and a classically-trained Mexican folkloric dancer who began her studies at the Insituto Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. She studied under accomplished choreographers such as Amalia Hernández (Ballet Folklórico de México), Rafael Zamarripa (Universidad de Colima), Francisco Bravo (Insituto Nacional de Bellas Artes), Graciela Tapia (Los Angeles), Luz María Gallego (Pánuco, Veracruz) and Miguel Vélez (Universidad de Veracruz).

As director of El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil (EBFE), Maestra Susana organized and produced the Midwest Folkloric Dance Workshops, Folkloric Dance Seminars for students in Mexico, and the Huapango Dance Workshop (Houston, TX). She produced youth performances with Mono Blanco, Sones de México, Los Folkloristas, Zazhil, Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández and Mariachi Guadalajara. She danced competitively in Concursos de Huapango (San Joaquín, Querétaro) and the International Folkloric Dance Competition (Chicago) where EBFE was awarded Second Place and the only U.S. group to place in the competition.

Always seeking cultural preservation and continuous improvement, Maestra Susana’s teaching focus for EBFE is to develop dancers and musicians as instructors with professional performance experience and academic knowledge in culture and literacy as well as to effectively empower all students with pride in themselves and respect for all ethnic groups.

Alejandro Quintanilla, born in Flint, Michigan has been dancing Mexican Folklórico for over 20 years. He has performed at Disney World, across multiple states in the U.S. and México, and with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada. He has competed in Folklorico in Texas, New York City, and México. He studied abroad for a year at La Universidad de Colima under Maestro Rafael Zamarripa. Alejandro received his BFA in Dance from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 2014. It is there he had the honor of working with esteemed dancer/choreographers Dianne McIntyre, as a soloist in an original dance, The Summit, as well as Germaul Barnes, in a restaging of D-Man in the Waters. He currently plays guitarrón in El Ballet Folklórico Estudiantil (EBFE) Mariachi and directs EBFE’s dance company.

Hannah Nettleton is a dancer and physical therapist in Flint, MI. Her goal is to improve public health by promoting physical activity. She began her early dance training with Young People’s Ballet Theatre. Hannah has taught dance classes in a variety of different styles including lyrical, contemporary, ballet, and pointe. Hannah began her exploration of folkloric dance with El Ballet Folklorico Estudiantil in 2018. Since then she’s had several performance opportunities and she attended The Las Cruces International Mariachi Conference in New Mexico.


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