Texas Border Business
MCALLEN, TEXAS (Sept. 2, 2020) – If you think it’s difficult to teach and dance Folklorico in the time of COVID-19 and social distancing you’d be correct.
But that isn’t stopping South Texas College history professor and director of Ballet Folklorico Victor Gomez from promoting his students’ work and trying to find the best solutions for the program.
“It’s an activity, physical activity, and because of everything that’s going on, it’s not conducive to be conducting class in person,” he said. “We’re still a little restricted. So what we’ve been trying to do is virtually show some of our previous performances. I am usually pretty shy about sharing those.
“It’s extremely rare to see our performances like on YouTube for example,” Gomez said. “We have them on a private channel but we usually use them to improve, looking at our steps.”
Now, the internationally recognized group is using these videos for different purposes. Gomez is putting the group’s performances online along with partner institutions south of the border.
“Since the pandemic hit we’re broadcasting these performances live,” he said. “That’s what the universities we work with in Mexico and Peru are doing.”
These days, Gomez said folklorico programs they are collaborating with are hosting discussions to find creative solutions. Festivals have gone digital which gives peer institutions a chance to learn about STC’s Ballet Folklorico.
“They’re slowly creating these virtual festivals and they’ll ask us to participate with something like a 12-minute performance and a short video introducing the group or talking about the dance we send,” Gomez said.
It’s a different experience from a few months ago when the group was in high demand and planning trips around North America.
“Before the pandemic, we went to performances in-person,” Gomez said. “Whether that’s the Carolinas, San Francisco or Peru where we went last July. We have been lucky enough to be invited to festivals all over Mexico. Our group has had to cancel multiple trips due to the pandemic so far.”
Gomez is glad to be a part of the international community as dancing groups around the world face similar struggles.
Ballet Folklorico’s connection with Mexican universities proves they are on equal footing with some of the most established programs in the world.
“The University of Guanajuato invited other universities- University of Jalisco, University of Veracruz, University of Tamaulipas and us to represent the United States,” Gomez said. “In this roundtable discussion, they wanted us to identify a couple from our group to participate in a dancer’s only discussion. To me, it feels like we’re doing something right to be included.”
Folklorico will present their next virtual performanceAmistades Juntos A La Distancia on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Livewww.facebook.com/balletfolkloricosouthtexascollege.
Gomez knows this time is difficult for students but also realizes staying active in any capacity will only benefit the dancers.
“We’re hidden, we cannot meet, but slowly we’re learning different things about ourselves,” he said. “That’s where the value of doing this virtual work comes in.”