DETROIT – Celebrating culture through music, that’s at the heart of a unique group bringing traditional Mexican dancing to the Metro Detroit community.
Lance Rodriguez, 28, is the artistic director of Ballet Folklorico De Detroit, which he founded in 2013. After 25 years of traditional Mexican dancing on his own, he wanted to bring it home.
“It’s just something about the music and then when you’re out on the dance floor and the whole rest of the world just melts away,” Rodriguez said.
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Baile Folklorico is the official dance of Mexico. It’s known for brightly colored ruffled skirts, pointed tap shoes and boots, and lots of heart. While it’s most popular in the Southwest United States, dancers like Rodriguez and his 46 students practice all year long at the Patton Park to put Detroit Folklorico on the map and connect with a tradition dating back decades.
“I’m not from Mexico, you know what I mean? I’m born and raised here. My mom’s born and raised here and I want to sort of connecting with my own heritage,” Rodriguez said.
Camila Cases, 12, started dancing when she was just four years old. Her mother brought her to Patton Park. She started dancing and stuck with it -- she used it as a place for her to celebrate her family and herself.
“I feel like it’s something to be proud of, I feel like you shouldn’t hide the fact that you’re Mexican,” Cases said. “We have a beautiful culture, we have amazing people, amazing everything.”
The patterns of the skirts and the steps of each dance have woven their way into the fabric of the city. The dancers aren’t charged anything for their sessions. It’s all put together, it’s all put together with donations and funds they raise -- including the money they use to send them to competitions.
Before the COVID pandemic, they entered into one of the toughest competitions in Texas and came home with two second-place trophies.
Click here to learn more about the dance team.