Cinco de Mayo


Daisy Valentin

Andrea Villalobos performs the traditional folklorico Jarabe Tapatio dance for elementary students on Cinco De Mayo. The Villalobos ladies are seasoned members of the dance team, Cualquati Folklorico, in Maricopa.

Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that commemorates Mexico’s unlikely triumph at the Battle of Puebla, fell on a Monday this year, and the Villalobos family was there to welcome it in. To help bring the celebration to the school, the two sisters, junior Andrea and fifth-grader Anissa, and their mother, Ruby, graced the Horizon Honors’ multipurpose room with a batch of traditional dances from the Baile Folklorico menu. Baile folklorico, just folklorico for short, is a family affair with the Villalobos, who dance with the performance troupe Cualquati Folklorico.

Before the performance, their mother introduced each of the girls and spoke about the costumes she and her daughters wore. She described the different pieces that made up the performance costuming: her daughters donned ornate two piece outfits – a blouse and a full skirt with a literal rainbow of color along the bottom – with special bloomers underneath for coverage, the regional significance of the head pieces, and the eye-catching dangly earrings. She expanded on the subject by citing that the dresses were ordered from the internet, customized and hand-made. Andrea and Anissa had bows braided into their hair, but while Andrea’s bun was fake, it paid homage to the Jalisco region dress. Ruby showed off the flower that adorned her bun, noting that it was a less region-specific tradition.

In addition to the stunning costumes, the folklorico dancers are equipped with special shoes. The closest relative of their footwear would be a cross between a hand-made character shoe and a tap shoe. “The spectacle of  Folklorico dancing is a combination of both the sound of the shoes and motions of the dresses. Traditionally the dance combines both the ballet like movement of the dresses with the folkloric dance steps (called zapateados) which involve percussive heel-stomping,” said Andrea. The members of their dance company range in age from five to 45. They are practiced in a variety of different dances including: Jesusita y Chihuahua, Baile Norte, and Jarabe Tapatio.

The music was infectious, the first and second graders and third and fourth graders were swept up in recreating the steps of the girls on stage. Furrowing their brows in concentration, even the young boys were entranced with the heel-toe-heel-toe step-together-step. Some adventurous spectators added their own embellishments, filling the pauses with turns and jazz hands. The Villalobos family’s Cinco de Mayo celebration was a beautiful depiction of the ancient Mexican tradition. Andrea reflected on the experience of sharing her culture with younger generations, “I like dancing Baile Floklorico because it makes me feel closer to my heritage. Through the dances, I have learned much about my culture I did not know, and through the performances my family is brought together to see me and my sister dance.”