Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Believe In Herencia - Week 11

Thank you everyone for reading and your continued support.  Many of you have shared my blog with your friends and family.  It shows!  More and more people are reading it.  This week the countries of France, Ghana and Ukraine checked in.  Welcome to the journey.  I'm still working on that world tour!  Any sponsors out there?  Send me an email and let's get this started!  Perhaps Pope Francis would like to host an event.  Folklorico On The Vatican sounds good to me!  Wouldn't that be something?  Please keep on sharing and spreading the word that there's a folklorico dancing guero with a blog!  With about 7 billion people in the world, there's a lot of work to be done.  I'm working toward 1000 page views this week!  Word of mouth works best, especially since I can't afford to pay for marketing or advertising.

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This week's post is about why I chose Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana for my dancing journey.  I have already shared about how I met Richard Solorzano and got started with Herencia Mexicana in my posting called, "In The Beginning."  Now I want to share with the world why I have stayed with Herencia Mexicana and my involvement with them in addition to being a student and performer. 

I Believe In Herencia

In the fall of 2011, before officially joining Herencia Mexicana in October, I was very excited and wanted to get involved.  I was assigned a few things to do for the group in additional to learning some basic steps.  One of the projects was a bulletin board to advertise the group at events.  Herencia was preparing for their big show at the LA County Fair and this was a way of occupying my time while I waited to begin classes and practices.  Plus they had a booth at an upcoming event in Azusa to promote the group in the community and this was something I could do.  Here is a picture of the board I made.  The board has weathered a bit, but it still does the trick and it has been used at several events to promote the group.

In 2012, Herencia expanded the group into the Inland Empire area in California, creating two separate chapters:  Duarte, California in Los Angeles County and San Bernardino, California in San Bernardino County (The Inland Empire).  The Inland Empire, locally known as the I.E., is the metropolitan area in Southern California located east of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.  Along with the launch of the Inland chapter came lots of work to get it up and ready.  So I helped Richard to get everything set up.  After the group started meeting for classes, in addition to being a student myself, I began to assist Richard with Facebook updates, practice reminders and advertisements on Craigslist.  He taught the classes and made the announcements and I did the paperwork and the clerical stuff. 

In the fall of 2012, both groups took the holidays off.  During the break, I worked with Richard to set the 2013 group calendar and helped organize a group practice schedule.  We developed a group recognition program to award the dancers for outstanding performance and for going above and beyond.  In the fall of this year, we will be having our 2013 group performance and recognition event to celebrate The Day Of The Dead and the achievements of the members in the group.  Something to look forward to and I will definitely post it on Facebook for everyone to see. 

In 2013, I have been helping in securing an official studio for the Inland chapter to practice at.  I help with the Duarte group as well now:  collecting dues, sending emails, taking attendance, updating Facebook, typing up documents and the like.  Recently, I helped arrange the Guerrero Workshop we had on Saturday.  This year we also started a music database to store all the versions of music that Herencia uses in their performances and practices. The repertoire of music is extensive and its nice having it all in one spot for easy access.  And let's not forget about acquiring all the costuming too, you can read more about that in the week 5 post, "What To Wear!"  I guess I've become one of the director's assistants.

To top it off, in 2013 I started to donate financially to the group.  The dues and show donations that are collected go towards the cost of the costumes for the dancers who perform.  All the money gets reinvested into the group.  The rest of the cost fell on Richard.  So I decided to pitch in.  I contribute the cost of the weekly studio costs for the Duarte group.  I have also been involved in discussions about fundraising to cover the costs of the group, ideas are in the works.  No, not gourmet bacon truffles or lettuce for $20 a head!

As I have previously stated before, a future project I would like to tackle is to write a book about Richard Solorzano and the history of Herencia Mexicana.  This book would document all his personal dancing legacy and serve as a record of the dance group as well.  Another undertaking I would like to be involved in is the preservation of the group for the years to come.  This would include video documenting all the dances Richard has labored to construct and choreograph over the 23 years.  Part of this would also be an interview and instructional on the Herencia Mexicana style, which sets the group apart from others.  These videos would be passed down to the group's future directors and instructors to keep the original founding vision and preserve the work of the founder. 

Another area I would like to see happen is scholarships for dancers.  I believe there are many, even a plethora of talented folklorico dancers out there in communities waiting for the opportunity to be discovered.  Some may not be able to afford to pay for the low monthly dues and it has kept them from exploring folklorico.  I want everyone to be able to experience and discover their abilities and this would be one more way to help people become all they can be. 

On a more personal note, I would like to see a big Herencia Mexicana production in 2014.  That would make an excellent goal for my 40th birthday!  Now would be the time to join and learn the dances to be part of the production.  Who want to join me?  Any takers out there?  And lastly, exclusively for the world tour, I would like to put together a wedo dance that would encompass all the different folklorico steps Ive learned.  What to see it?  Book the tour!
So what would make me want to volunteer, dance and support Herencia Mexicana?  Why exactly did I join Herencia Mexicana for my dancing journey?  There are many folklorico groups out there to choose from.  Large academy dance groups to small recreational community groups.  Yes, you can say there are a plethora!  To be honest, I didn't do much shopping around, Herencia was the right match for me.  Perhaps it's a right match for you too!  Welcome to the Herencia commercial!   Here are twelve reasons why I joined Herencia Mexicana and "Believe In" it:

1.)  The Instructor:  Richard Solorzano has been dancing for over 23 years.  He is one of the original founders of Herencia Mexicana and the last of the original dancers in the group.  He has an extensive repertoire of dances and has an outstanding ability to teach.  He brings the experience of dancing with many folklorico groups and has performed all over California for a variety of events.  He volunteers his time to the group and invests his own money into it because he believes in Herencia too.

2.)  The Instruction:  Folk dancing originally had no formal training and people learned by observing.  Some dance groups still teach this way.  You're expected just to pick it up.  At Herencia Mexicana, the steps are explained and broken down for the students.  For someone like me, that has no previous folklorico training, this made it possible for me to learn it right.  Plus the instructors are bilingual, both Spanish and English speaking.  Students are communicated to  in the language they are comfortable with, so they are able to get the training.  I have seen many dancers develop and advance quickly.  Even accomplished dancers can improve on their skills and grow.

3.)  Performing Opportunities:  Herencia Mexicana has plenty of performance opportunities for their students.  Students get to perform as long as they learn the material and can execute it well.  I like that Herencia has built a respected name for itself and that many people seek them out for their events.  I like that Herencia provides entertainment for common people at a very reasonable cost.  Big productions are nice and possible, but dancing for everyday people keeps folk dancing tradition alive.

4.)  Affordability:  The monthly dues for the group are very affordable for everyone.  This makes it possible for more people to join and be a part of the action.  Plus, with the group providing the costumes for the performing students, that huge financial burden is removed.
5.)  Community:  Herencia attracts all kinds of people with a range of experience!  There are beginners to seasoned dancers.  Herencia does not discriminate.  They are very inclusive.
6.)  The Costumes:  Although I personally purchased my own costumes, Herencia provides the costumes for their performing dancers.  They are professional quality.  Herencia provides the best for their performers.  Beautiful and elaborate custom made costumes and jewelry that really give that dancer a sense of pride, respect and appreciation.  You only have one chance to make that first impression.

7.)  Environment:  Herencia provides a professional environment for their students to learn.  Herencia was founded by a family and is family based.  Over the years whole families have joined, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, cousins, brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters, sisters and brothers.  You get the idea.  Also, Herencia is a great place to make friends and interact with other dancers.  Herencia builds relationships through dance. 

8.)  The Herencia Style:   I love the unique style of the group.  Herencia has a rich flavor and fun style that sets them apart from other dance companies.  Many groups stick to the Amalia Hernandez style of folklorico dancing, which is fine.  Herencia combines the traditional with originality, resulting in beautiful and refreshing art.

9.)  Vision & Attitude:  The leadership have the right vision and attitude.  They are not self seeking.  They are dedicated to do their part in preserving the art of folklorico dance and pass it down to the future.  They believe in giving everyone a chance.  I believe they have a good approach.  They believe in what they are doing. 

10.)  Challenge:  Herencia Mexicana attracts experienced dancer by presenting entertaining and refreshing choreography and dances.  Dancers enjoy learning something different for a change and the challenge that comes with learning different versions of the various folklorico dances.  Herencia offers originality and character that audiences enjoy.  They have built a respected reputation that many seek.

11.)  Adventure:  There are many opportunities with Herencia.  You can get involved on many levels.  The potential is there.  You can create your own folklorico adventure.  Start your journey today!  It's fun.

12.)  Mission, Values & Purpose:  Herencia Mexicana is dedicated to keeping the art of Mexican folk dancing alive and embraces the values of tradition, culture, family and heritage.  These values are captured in the group's mission statement.  Herencia has a solid foundation to build a folklorico dancing future upon.

I could go on and on ranting and raving over the group.  There are numerous health benefits to dancing too, although the group itself is not an aerobic exercise class, it does get you in shape!  Okay that's enough!  I will stop.  My dancing journey was made possible because of Herencia Mexicana.  If you are in the Southern California area and want to dance, come on board.  Membership enrollment is open!

In closing, folklorico dancing incorporates dance styles from all over the world.  I covered that last week in my post, "What is Folk Dancing?"  I may not have had the opportunity to travel all over the world, to many countries, but I have gotten to see the world and experience it through folklorico dancing.  It's like taking one big dance trip!  I have a dream that one day there will be a plethora of wedos dancing folklorico and going on the trip with me!  Until next week, this wedo is out!

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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